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PBA DL: CEU, Cignal start title duel

By Jerome lagunzad

Games Today
(Ynares Sports Arena)
5 p.m. – Cignal HD vs CEU

Outside of Centro Escolar University coach Yong Garcia and his players, only few expected the Scorpions to make it this deep in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup.

But CEU intends to sustain its giant-killing ways against powerhouse Cignal HD in their best-of-three titular showdown for the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown starting today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The series opener is set at 5 o’clock, with the Scorpions determined to ride the crest of their impressive semifinals conquest of the top-ranked and erstwhile favorite Flying V Thunder last week.

And CEU is eager to embrace—and thrive anew—on its underdog role against a loaded Cignal HD side equally eager to complete a golden double following its solid title run in the season-opening Aspirants Cup.

“Wala namang nag-akala na makakaabot kami rito. Hindi naman masamang subukan,” siad CEU coach Yong Garcia who has been doing a stellar job squeezing the best from his underrated crew bannered by Congolose center Rod Ebondo and heady guards Aaron Jeruta and JK Casiño.

“Kaya sabi ko sa mga players ko, we just have to stay focused and stick to our gameplan.”

Garcia’s Cignal HD counterpart, Boyer Fernandez, won’t have that same luxury since the Hawkeyes should make a big adjustment in the absence of workhorse Raymar Jose, who’s been tapped to reinforce a youthful Gilas Pilipinas side in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Matching up with them without Raymar is a tough one. But we will find a way to limit Ebondo,” assured Fernandez, the winningest mentor in league history with six titles tucked under his belt.

“We know that CEU is a very good team and is well-coached. I’m also worried about their guards. So we really have to bring our defensive mentality if we want to win Game 1 and the series.”

Without the 6-foot-4 Jose, Jason Perkins must double his efforts down low while gunners Pamboy Raymundo, Byron Villarias and former pro Jonathan Uyloan should hit their mark from the outside to keep the Hawkeyes’ chances high.