One team eyes to sweep all the titles this season, while another shoots for its first ever hardware when Phoenix and Tanduay begin their best-of-three Finals series for the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at Alone Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna on Thursday.
Fending off fierce rival and defending champion Cafe France, the Accelerators are coming in as favorites to win the plum.
And that’s why coach Eric Gonzales is ecstatic to once again be in the championship duel.
“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.”
MVP contender Mike Tolomia has been nothing short of spectacular as he took the baton in leading this squad, while also getting ample of help from teammates Mac Belo, Ed Daquioag, and Roger Pogoy.
But if there’s one team that could match Phoenix, it’s definitely Tanduay.
The Rhum Masters beefed up their lineup with key additions like Gelo Alolino and late insertion Kevin
Ferrer. That move indeed worked wonders as they stunned top seed Racal in the semifinals and booked their first ever Finals appearance.
Coach Lawrence Chongson is optimistic that Tanduay would continue rewriting history as he finally hopes to deliver for one of the league’s pioneering members.
“We want to go all the way. Hindi lang Finals ang hinahabol namin. Gusto namin mag-champion,” he said. “It will all mean nothing if we don’t win it all.”
Phoenix has had the upper hand against Tanduay when it comes to head-to-head matches between the two this conference.
The Accelerators started the conference with a 98-79 victory over the Rhum Masters last June 8, and continued their mastery on July 12 with a 108-95 win.
Ferrer, though, was absent in those two defeats, giving Chongson a reason to be optimistic that he could finally get over the Phoenix hump.
The championship duel is set at 4:30 p.m. as the PBA D-League brings the games for the first time in the province of Laguna.