By Jerome Lagunzad
(Pasig City Sports Center)
4 p.m. – Zark’s Burgers vs Che’Lu Bar and Grill
(Game 1, best-of-three finals)
Youth against experience will be the overriding theme when Zark’s Burgers squares off with fellow newcomer Che’Lu Bar and Grill in what promises to be a blockbuster best-of-three finals series for the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown starting on Tuesday at the Pasig City Sports Center.
The Jawbreakers, built around the core of fast-rising NCAA force Lyceum Pirates, have proven they can rise about great odds as they became the lowest seeded team in the six-team playoff cast to clinch a finals berth since the league was formed in 2011.
Zark’s Burgers, with little room for any error, overhauled a twice-to-beat advantage enjoyed by third-ranked Centro Escolar University, bannered by Congolese center Rod Ebondo, in an epic quarterfinals duel already worthy of a finals setting.
Then the Jawbreakers squeezed the best from everyone in their fold as they swept their way past erstwhile title favorite No. 2 Marinerong Pilipino, composed of top amateur and collegiate standouts, in the semis much to the delight of amiable tactician Topex Robinson.
“Minsan lang sila maglalaro dito sa D-League, that’s why they have to enjoy every second of it. I’m just a steward trying to guide then and make them enjoy,” he said following their series-clinching 102-89 victory over the Skippers last Thursday.
“In that sense, I’m also enjoying the opportunity kasi nga…I mean, parang ang galing mo mag-coach. But if you have players like these, talagang they really respond to every adversity na hinaharap nila.”
Zark’s Burgers team manager Bernard Yang sees a fierce showdown but he’s hoping to win his fourth championship in 9 finals appearances since the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
The same could be viewed from the Revellers, the fourth-ranked squad which took full advantage of their retooled unit to upstage elimination topnotcher Akari-Adamson Falcons in a similar 2-0 sweep of their semis duel.