(Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig)
3 p.m. — Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda vs EcoOil-La Salle
BACK-TO-BACK or bounce back?
EcoOil-De La Salle University goes for the kill as Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda University tries to stay alive in the potential Game 2 closeout of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup finals today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Green Archers drew first blood in the best-of-three titular showdown on Thursday to score a coast-to-coast 108-82 victory ignited by a rousing first half and close in on a second straight D-League title.
A win at 3 p.m. would fulfill the dream for the Green Archers but not without an anticipated resistance from the Red Lions in a bid to force a winner-take-all Game 3.
“It’s a best-of-three series so it does not put us anywhere,” said De La Salle deputy Gian Nazario, wary of the sharper fangs from the Red Lions after being tamed in the opener. “We expect them to be back. It will boil down to the respect we have on coach Yuri (Escueta) and his team.”
De La Salle prior to the D-League finale absorbed a stunning loss to the University of the Philippines in the Filoil finals for its first and only defeat after going undefeated in 11 matches.
That lit a fire in the Green Archers’ hearts as they poured their wrath on the hapless Red Lions right off the bat, firing on target with an absurd 68-percent (11-of-16) from downtown in the first half to take a commanding 59-27 gap heading home.
De La Salle, also thanks to 27 turnover points and 27 fastbreak points, was never threatened from there as Mark Nonoy and Ben Phillips took turns in the barrage.
But the Red Lions promise a better start to give them a fighting chance to equalize and keep their title hopes alive.
“We’re one step behind but we know what we need to do. Sabi ko nga, even if we lose by a point or 28 points, it’s just one game. We just have to start the game better in Game 2 with more energy and effort,” said Mr. Escueta, tasking Jacob Cortez, James Payosing and Peter Alfaro to lead their resistance. — John Bryan Ulanday