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PBA DL: Hapee battles Cagayan

Games Today (The Arena, San Juan)
1 p.m. – Cagayan-Gerry’s vs Hapee Toothpaste
3 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs Cebuana Lhuillier

A lot has changed since that epic finals encounter between eventual champion Hapee Toothpaste and Cagayan Valley-Gerry’s Grill last conference.

And when the they square off for the first time in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at 1 p.m. today at The Arena in San Juan, both teams won’t be parading their talent-laden rosters from their exhilarating championship duel in the Aspirants Cup two months ago.

They’re not even the two best teams of the league at this point of the tournament.

Hapee and Cagayan are locked in a four-way logjam for fourth to seventh places with AMA University and Jumbo Plastic at 2-2, needing a win to boost their title bids.

Hapee won’t be having the likes of San Beda stars Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer and Art dela Cruz – all major contributors in last conference’s title run. Garvo Lanete will once again be in street clothes due to a knee injury.

“Malaking kawalan talaga sila, pero siguro sa amin kailangan nalang namin doblehin pa yung effort namin, sa amin na natira nung championship,” said Finals hero Earl Scottie Thompson who broke the hearts of the Rising Suns with three key stops and the go-ahead basket in the title clincher.

Since the devastating finals loss, Cagayan Valley has added a sponsor to its name and even its coach Alvin Pua is not as temperamental and not as volatile as he was last conference.

“Of course that finals loss still stings,” said Cagayan guard Abel Galliguez. “But we have to move on and treat this new conference as a chance to start again. We lost one player but our team is still in-tact. We just have to prove that we are still contenders in this league.”

Moala Tautuaa, who missed crucial free throws late in Cagayan’s bitter defeat in Game 2, will also be in the building, but in a different jersey.

Tautuaa tries to help Cebuana Lhuillier stretch its unbeaten run to five games as it faces Jumbo Plastic in the second game at 3 p.m.

The Gems have been claiming names left and right, the last being an 81-70 victory over the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters last week.

The Linoleum Giants on the other hand will look to atone for a bad outing the last time around when they dropped a 73-57 defeat at the hands of the Rising Suns.