(Alonte Sports Arena)
4:30 p.m. -- Tanduay vs. Phoenix (Finals, Game 1)
BACK-TO-BACK title-seeking Phoenix and Finals debutant Tanduay begin their best-of-three series for the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship today at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Coming off an 89-78 conquest of deposed champion Cafe France, the Accelerators are coming in the 4:30 p.m. match as favorites to win the plum.
Winners of the Aspirants’ Cup title last June, coach Eric Gonzales is ecstatic as Phoenix is looking to complete a season sweep of the D-League crowns.
“Our goal is to be there in the Finals. We want to win and play with all our hearts,” said Gonzales. “I’m just thankful sa players dahil they lived up to the challenge.”
The trio of Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo and Ed Daquioag has been splendid all-season long for the Accelerators, who are also drawing huge contributions from forward RR Pogoy.
Making their first-ever title series appearance since entering the league as one of the pioneers in 2011, the Rhum Masters cannot be taken for granted.
By beefing up its lineup with key additions like Gelo Alolino and late acquisition Kevin Ferrer, Tanduay suddenly found itself as a title contender as it defeated top seed Racal twice in the semifinals to advance.
Coach Lawrence Chongson is optimistic that the Rhum Masters, a proven winner in defunct commercial amateur leagues, would continue rewriting history.
“We want to go all the way. Hindi lang Finals ang hinahabol namin. Gusto namin mag-champion,” said Chongson. “It will all mean nothing if we don’t win it all.”
Phoenix has swept Tanduay in their head-to-head matches this conference.
The Accelerators carved out a 98-79 victory over the Rhum Masters last June 8, and continued their mastery on July 12 with a 108-95 win, but Ferrer then was not in Chongson’s roster.