MANILA, Philippines—League-leading Hapee faces its toughest challenge yet when it clashes with fellow unbeaten team Cagayan Valley in what could be a preview of the 2015 PBA D-League Finals on Thursday.
Both squads have already booked the two outright semifinals spots but their long-awaited tiff at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City serves as a test as to where they really are with the elimination round about to end.
“It’s a good challenge for us to see how we will fare against an experienced team. It’s also interesting how my players will compete against one of the toughest teams in the league” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc, bracing for a dogfight.
The Fresh Fighters, toting a 10-0 record, are aiming to wrap up their campaign in the elimination round at the top, where they have been all-conference long while the well-rested Rising Suns, very close behind at 9-0, are looking to knock their rivals off the perch.
Cagayan will be eager to go out on the floor since the team will be coming off a two-week break since winning over Tanduay Light last Jan. 8.
Hapee on the other hand, beat Jumbo Plastic, 82-56, in its previous game last Thursday.
Head coach Alvin Pua will also make his return at the Rising Suns sidelines after serving a three-game suspension.
The titanic matchup between Cagayan’s Fil-Tongan big man Moala Tautuaa and Hapee’s Nigerian center Ola Adeogun is also something to watch out for. Tautuaa has been the big reason for Cagayan’s success while Adeogun will be out to prove he’s still the best big man in the league.
The showdown between the two best teams in the league is set at 4 p.m. after Cebuana Lhuillier battles also-ran MP Hotel at 12 noon and the quarterfinals-bound Giants tangle with the MJM M-Builders, who are also out of the running, at 2 p.m.