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PBA: CEU goes for D-L finals vs Flying V

By Jerome Lagunzad

Game Today
(Ynares Sports Arena)
(Knockout match semifinals)
4 p.m. – CEU vs Flying V

Centro Escolar University, the perceived underdog aiming to complete a colossal stunner, is undaunted. But Flying V, the odds-on favorite raring to rediscover its once dominant self, is unfazed.

The Thunder and the Scorpion go at it one last time today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, with the winner earning the right to face the Cignal HD Hawkeyes in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals.

Momentum will be on the side of CEU in the 4 p.m. sudden-death duel, thanks largely to a masterful 93-72 victory last Tuesday that pierced what once looked as an invincible armor of the Flying V courtesy of an 11-game winning streak dating back to the eliminations.

And the Scorpions should be relishing their role as spoilers to a dream best-of-three titular showdown between the Thunder and the Hawkeyes, the season-opening Aspirants Cup titlists.

“‘Yung pressure nasa kanila,” admitted CEU coach Yong Garcia. “Kami naman, hindi naman namin ini-expect na makakapasok kami dito. Pero nandito na tayo. Wala namang masama kung subukan natin.”

The Thunder, who took the series opener 65-61 last week, are determined to achieve what they failed to do the last time out.

“Kailangan magregroup kami and make sure we play better on Thursday (today),” stressed Flying V mentor Eric Altamirano, urging the Thunder to play with a collective sense of urgency.

Thunder ace wingman Jeron Teng, the leading tournament MVP candidate, intends to do just that, saying: “We’re playing a very tough team and you can see that they’re very cohesive so we have to match that. I think we were too relaxed in Game 2. For sure, next game dahil do-or-die, iba na ‘yung approach namin.”

“We’re expecting nothing but an all-out war,” was how Garcia summed up a possible no-holds barred encounter, with CEU mainly pinning its hopes anew on Congolese center Rod Ebondo, Christian Uri and Art Aquino.

Out to backstop the 6-foot-2 Teng are former pro Gab Banal, veteran Eric Salamat and guard Thomas Torres.