By Jerome Lagunzad
(Ynares Sports Arena)
3 p.m. – Marinerong Pilipino vs Wang’s Basketball
5 p.m. – Racal Motors vs Batangas
The race for remaining playoff spots further heats up today, with four protagonists still in the hunt taking center stage in the resumption of the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup action at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Resurgent Marinerong Pilipino (3-4) squares off with unpredictable Wang’s Basketball (5-4) in the 3 p.m. opener before Racal Motors (3-4) takes on Batangas (4-3) in a battle of struggling teams set at 5 o’clock.
With only three quarterfinal seats still up for grabs, Skippers coach Koy Banal likes his wards’ chances, with Marinerong Pilipino starting to live up to its billing by scoring back-to-back wins, the last a dominant 119-74 beating of also-ran Zark’s Burgers last Tuesday.
“Very big chance,” was how Banal described their playoff chances. “Kung mai-straight namin, we can really make it even at the No. 4 spot. But we’re taking it one day at a time. Ayaw namin ma-overwhelm.”
The opposite should be the collective mindset of the Couriers, who need to play with more sense of urgency if they intend to bounce back from an 81-93 loss dealt by quarterfinal-bound Tanduay last Tuesday and clinch the franchise’s first playoff ticket since joining the league in 2013.
“Isa sila sa mga kaagawan namin ng pwesto,” said Banal of the Couriers. “But our remainder to the players, maniwala kayo sa miracle. Anything can still happen. You just have to give the players enough hope that after every storm, the sun will rise up. We’re still gonna see the rainbow.”
The Alibaba are also eager to pump life to their sagging campaign after losing four of their last five matches, leaving them with little room for any error in their make-or-break encounter with the Batangueños.
“Mahirap ‘yung kalagayan namin ngayon, pero one game at a time pa rin. Naniniwala naman kami na kaya pa rin naming humabol doon,” said Racal Motors coach Jerry Codiñera, keeping himself optimistic amid their current predicament.
Codiñera’s Batangas counterpart, Eric Gonzales, is also keeping his fingers crossed that his wards can inch themselves closer towards their immediate goal.