by Jonas Terrado
Game Tuesday (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
4 p.m. – Cignal-Ateneo vs CEU
(Cignal-Ateneo leads series 1-0)
Cignal-Ateneo hopes to make it two in a row over Centro Escolar University and move a win shy of capturing the crown in the PBA D-League Finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Blue Eagles enter the 4 p.m. affair looking to build on their 101-66 win over the undermanned Scorpions last Thursday at The Arena in San Juan with a slew of players expected to deliver anew.
Thirdy Ravena, Ange Kouame, Isaac Go and SJ Belangel were mainly responsible for Cignal-Ateneo’s triumph, highlighting coach Tab Baldwin’s deep lineup.
While it was apparent that they’re heads above the Scorpions, the Blue Eagles were already warned against being too complacent.
“We could not take them for granted because they’re in the finals for a reason. We just wanted to make sure that we don’t get complacent,” said Cignal-Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
CEU, reduced to eight uniformed players following game-fixing allegations that rocked the team during the quarterfinals, is eager to get back to the form that allowed them to reach this far.
Senegalese center Maodo Malick Diouf and Rich Guinitaran are out to defy the odds anew as CEU coach Derrick Pumaren hopes to get most out of his players.
Jerome Santos put on 12 points in Game 1 while backup center Dave Bernabe showed he can step up after being instrumental in the Scorpions’ semifinal triumph over St. Clare-Virtual Reality.
Guards Franz Diaz and Kurt Sunga look to weather this time Ateneo’s formidable backcourt led by the cerebral Matt Nieto.
CEU also wants to minimize its turnovers after throwing the ball away 24 times, which Cignal-Ateneo converted into 23 points.
“We just have to believe that we can compete with them. We have to show that heart and fight on Game 2,” said Pumaren.