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PBA DL: Phoenix eyes crown

Game Today
(Alonte Sports Arena, Biñan)
5 p.m. – Tanduay vs Phoenix
(Phoenix leads series 1-0)

Phoenix goes for the sweep of first-time finalist Tanduay and a second straight title today when the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals resumes today at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.

After claiming the series opener last Thursday with an 84-76 victory at the same venue, the Accelerators would like nothing more than to deliver a strong finishing kick when they face the Rhum Masters at 5 p.m.

Another win and Phoenix will join NLEX as the only teams to capture back-to-back championships since the D-League opened shop in 2011.

Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, and Russell Escoto are also going to enjoy another championship celebration with the victory, having tasted lifting trophies for Far Eastern University in the UAAP last December, for Phoenix last April in the Aspirants Cup, and for the Gilas Cadets in late-May in the SEABA Cup in Bangkok.

But before they could think of ways to savor another impending crown, Phoenix is hoping to be as sharp as ever on the defensive end, especially after needing a decisive run in the fourth quarter to win Game 1.

“We have to play together. Ang pinakamahalaga sa amin is we sprint back on defense,” he said, knowing that the defense must hold up for the offensively gifted Phoenix.

Belo was superb in that contest, finishing with 30 points, but much are expected from Tolomia, Ed Daquioag and Pogoy if Phoenix wants to sweep Tanduay.

Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson, for his part, said the series is far from over.

“Konting polish na lang sa depensa,” Chongson said. “In this game, we were leading for more than 23 minutes. Pero sa crunch time, we missed some crucial free throws. Tingin ko naman, konting adjustments lang. Makukuha din namin ’yan.”

Reden Celda and Kevin Ferrer lead Tanduay’s bid to force a deciding third game on Thursday, but Gelo Alolino, one of the primary figures in the semifinal upset of top seed Racal, must step up after being a non-factor the last time.

Before the game, the league will announce its Most Valuable Player for the conference. Emerging as top contenders are Tolomia, Carl Bryan Cruz of CaféFrance, and Jonathan Grey of Racal.