By Jerome Lagunzad
(Ynares Sports Arena)
4 p.m. – CEU vs Che’Lu Bar and Grill
6 p.m. – Marinerong Pilipino-TIP vs Go for Gold
Lower-seeded teams intend to pull off some big surprises against their higher-ranked counterparts as the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals get going today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
No. 4 Centro Escolar University will have the initial crack at 4 p.m. as the Scorpions take on the eliminations topnotcher, the Che’Lu Bar and Grill Revellers, in the opener of their best-of-three Final Four encounter.
Then No.3 Marinerong Pilipino hopes to get the job done at 6 p.m. when the Skippers square off with the favored Go for Gold Scratchers in the other semis pairing.
Both teams have split their head-to-head meetings back in the eliminations, with the Scorpions prevailing in the first round, 94-78, last June 7 and the Revellers returning the favor, 105-78, in the second round last July 5.
That should be enough for Che’Lu Bar and Grill coach Stevenson Tiu to sound cautious, aware how dangerous a battle-proven CEU side can be under the tutelage of acting mentor Derrick Pumaren.
“For any other coaches, I am happy that we’re on top. But in the semis, we all get back to zero. There won’t be any pushover that’s why our mindset should stay the same: beat our rivals whoever they may be,” he said.
For his part, Pumaren is confident that the Scorpions will continue to turn heads despite losing prized Cameroon big man Rod Ebondo who has already graduated.
“Nobody expected us to be here. With the departure of Rod and other veteran big men we had, we are the surprise team in the semis,” he said. “So it’s going to be a tall order for us playing the number one team in the league.
“We just have to compete and play discipline basketball for us to pull a surprise. We know what they can do so we have to show up Tuesday (today) with our A-game to be able to advance to the next round.”
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