Strike Gym, Bacoor, Cavite
4 p.m. – Cafe France vs Phoenix
6 p.m. – Racal vs Tanduay
One team will earn a return trip to the finals while another is set to make its first appearance as the PBA D-League Foundation Cup holds its do-or-die semis doubleheader today at the Strike gym in Bacoor, Cavite.
Defending champion CaféFrance and Aspirants Cup titlist Phoenix dispute the first finals berth in the 4 p.m. opener before top seed Racal and fourth-ranked Tanduay wage battle in the other game at 6 p.m.
CaféFrance and Tanduay forged today’s knockout matches after beating their twice-to-beat opponents last Thursday at the same venue.
Leaning on Carl Bryan Cruz, Rod Ebondo, and Aaron Jeruta, CaféFrance overcame an eight-point third quarter deficit to stun Phoenix, 78-68, while Tanduay survived despite squandering a 23-point lead behind former National University stars Gelo Alolino and Reden Celda to beat Racal, 88-86.
Another thrilling showdown is expected between CaféFrance and Phoenix – the two teams that battled to a five-game series in the Aspirants Cup finals which the latter won thanks to the heroics of Mac Belo.
CaféFrance coach Egay Macaraya is hopeful his boys would produce another stellar performance despite declaring themselves as underdogs against a Phoenix team loaded with former Far Eastern University stars and members of the national team pool for next month’s FIBA Asia Challenge in Tehran, Iran.
“Hirap pa din dun sa Gilas boys, yun naman talaga ang problema e. Bottomline is that we have to make some stops,” said Macaraya, referring to Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Russell Escoto, and Ed Daquioag.
Phoenix mentor Eric Gonzales, however, disagrees, saying: “CaféFrance is much superior than Phoenix. Blessing na lang din na twice-to-beat kami, but our side will try our best to put up a good fight.”