- News in Photo
(Ynares Sports Arena,
4 p.m. – Cignal vs Racal
Cignal-San Beda and Racal look to draw first blood and move on the cusp of a breakthrough title as they start their best-of-three series today in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Tipoff is set at 4 p.m. in a showdown pitting a Cignal team that made the finals on its maiden campaign under the tutelage of the league’s most successful mentor and a Racal side which finally reached the biggest stage after three years.
Both squads had to endure a pair of hard-fought semifinal encounters, needing the full three games via contrasting results to reach the championship round.
Cignal beat Tanduay, 88-63, to complete its recovery from a stunning Game 1 loss while Racal had to weather the tough stance of CaféFrance in the other semis duel, taking the decider, 78-74, behind clutch baskets by Jackson Corpuz and Allan Mangahas.
The coaching battle will also be intriguing. Cignal is coached by Boyet Fernandez, in the D-League finals for the eighth time and is eyeing for a seventh title.
It would be recalled that Fernandez guided NLEX to six championships from 2011 to 2014 with a star-studded roster before the franchise jumped to the pro ranks. This time, he will have the core of the NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions alongside Jason Perkins and Pamboy Raymundo, among others.
Guiding Racal will be Jerry Codiñera, the former PBA great and current Arellano University tactician who brought the Tile Masters to the finals on his first try.
Codiñera brought the best out of his roster, which included Corpuz, Mangahas, Rey Nambatac, Kent Salado and Sidney Onwubere.
In their lone elimination round meeting, Cignal beat Racal, 96-86, last March 13 at the JCSGO gym in Cubao, Quezon City, but Fernandez said the result does not gauge of what many should expect in the series.