(Alonte Sports Arena)
5 p.m. – Phoenix vs Tanduay
Game 1 – Phoenix 84, Tanduay 76
Game 2 – Tanduay 89, Phoenix 75
(Series tied 1-1)
Expect the Phoenix Accelerators and Tanduay Rhum Masters to play like there’s no tomorrow as they clash for all the marbles today in the deciding third game of their PBA D-League Foundation Cup title series at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Tanduay forged today’s 5 p.m. rubber match for the championship after an 89-75 victory last Tuesday thanks to an impressive second half performance sparked by guard Gelo Alolino who finished with 26 points.
Another victory for the Rhum Masters and they would complete an improbable title run that saw the fourth-ranked team after the eliminations advancing to their first-ever finals by beating the top seed Racal Tile Masters twice in the semifinals.
The Rhum Masters lost Game 1, 84-76, exactly a week ago but showed steady resolve in the second game with Alolino getting plenty of help from Reden Celda, Jeff Javillonar and Jaymo Eguilos.
While it appears that Tanduay now has the edge after beating Phoenix for the first time this conference, its coach Lawrence Chongson is disputing such claim.
“Ayoko laruin yan, sana maglaro sa Phoenix pero ayoko magpadala sa ganun. Phoenix is a dangerous animal,” said Chongson, who also hopes to draw big games from Kevin Ferrer, Jaypee Belencion, Rudy Lingganay and Lucas Tagarda.
Phoenix failed in its first attempt to become the second team in league history to win back-to-back championships, losing steam after a strong start in Game 2.
“They deserved to win because they outhustled us,” said Phoenix coach Eric Gonzales.
Phoenix will have to make the duo of Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo show up with major contributions in the biggest game of the tournament.
Tolomia was held to just eight points on 2-of-10 shooting while dealing with flu, spoiling the day that saw the former Far Eastern University star winning the Foundation Cup Most Valuable Player award.