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PBA D-L semis on

By: Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(Ynares Sports Arena)
3 p.m. – CEU vs Flying V
5 p.m. – Cignal HD vs Marinerong Pilipino

Marinerong Pilipino coach Koy Banal could not help but feel that they are getting some Divine Intervention in the course of what he described as a “miracle run” for the Skippers dating back to the elimination round.

And he’s hoping they will continue to do so today when the Skippers square off with powerhouse Cignal HD in the opener of their 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinal series at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Tip off time is at 5 o’clock, with the Skippers, the lowest ranked team in the playoffs at sixth spot, out to stretch their winning run to eight and sustain their mastery over the Hawkeyes, the reigning Aspirants Cup titlists.

“Meron bang limit ang Diyos? Walang limit ang Diyos,” said Banal, sounding confident that the Skippers have what it takes to pull off another stunner after overhauling a twice-to-win disadvantage against the third-seeded Tanduay Rhum Masters in the quarterfinals.

However, Banal knows the Hawkeyes, armed with hardworking frontliners like Jason Perkins and Raymar Jose, remain dangerous despite holding a psychological edge courtesy of a close 66-65 victory in their elimination round meeting last June 8.

“Hindi ganoon kadali ang Cignal considering na we only have one day of preparation. So again, we will just rely on the right hand of God, the grace of God,” he stressed.

Banal’s Cignal HD counterpart, Boyet Fernandez, has admitted the Hawkeyes will have their hands full against the Skippers.

“We’ll find a way to match-up with them. We’re excited right now, we’re excited that we made it to the semis right away, but we’ll try to find ways to win against Marinero,” he said.

The other semis pairing should also gain a fair share of the limelight, with top-seeded Flying V determined to stretch its perfect run against No. 4 Centro Escolar University in their 3 p.m. showdown.

The Thunder, who wielded the big broom in the elimination round, are expected to lean anew on the all-around plays of ace wingman Jeron Teng, the undoubted frontrunner in the Most Valuable Player race.