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(Alonte Sports Arena, Binan)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs Tanduay
History will be at stake when Phoenix and Tanduay start their best-of-three series for the PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown today at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
Tipoff is set at 4:30 p.m. with the Accelerators aiming to become the second team in league history to win back-to-back titles and the Rhum Masters trying to secure a breakthrough championship in this their first finals appearance.
Both teams almost took similar routes to reach the championship round. Phoenix staved off the stiff challenge of dethroned CafeFrance while Tanduay overcame the twice-to-beat advantage of top seed Racal in the semifinals.
Phoenix will enter the series as the favorite, having beaten Tanduay twice in the double-round eliminations while boasting a talented lineup led by Mike Tolomia, who had 31 points in Tuesday’s 89-78 victory over CafeFrance, and Mac Belo.
The Accelerators are also favored to join the NLEX Road Warriors as the only teams in the league’s five-year history to capture two straight titles. Their coach, Eric Gonzales, however doesn’t see it as an easy task.
“It’s a good thing that they lived up to the challenge. Pero malakas ang Tanduay and we expect a hard-fought series,” said Gonzales.
Phoenix beat Tanduay in its first meeting, 98-79, last June 8 followed by a 108-95 victory last July 12.
But Tanduay has became a dangerous team despite finishing fourth in the elims thanks to the late addition of Kevin Ferrer. The Rhum Masters of coach Lawrence Chongson also saw inspiring plays from guards Gelo Alolino and Reden Celda.
“We want to go all the way. Gusto namin magchampion,” Chongson said after Tanduay completed the stunning ouster of Racal with an 81-70 win also last Tuesday.