Back to square one as red-hot Cignal faces acid test from Tanduay in D-League semis
Veteran coaches Lawrence Chongson and Boyet Fernandez lock horns anew, this time with Tanduay and San Beda, respectively, in the Aspirants Cup round of four. Jerome Ascano 

CIGNAL-San Beda hopes to sustain its hot streak when the Hawkeyes take on Tanduay in the PBA D-League semifinals on Tuesday at the Marikina Sports Complex.

The Hawkeyes are on an eight-game winning streak, but coach Boyet Fernandez says it is irrelevant as they play a best-of-three series starting at 5 p.m.

“It’s very important for us to win Game One and take control of the series. Facing Tanduay in the semis is a tough matchup for us. We just have to be ready and prepared for them,” said Fernandez. 

“We’d rather look at it at a game-to-game basis and not mind the streak,” he added.

Fernandez will bank on his San Beda core reinforced by Jason Perkins against a Rhum Masters led by ex-pros Mark Cruz and Jerwin Gaco.

Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson is quick to embrace the underdog status.

“Underdogs kami dyan. But we know we have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Chongson said.

“Teams have to find their own niche. Luxury ng school-based teams yung chemistry nila so I have to find mine, and I think we found a way naman and we thought that going with the ex-pros is the way to go.”

Meanwhile, Cafe France coach Egay Macaraya is worried their quarterfinal game against Jose Rizal University exposed their weakness against zone defense. 

The Bakers hope to address the issue ahead of the 3 p.m. match against second-seed Racal. 

"We have to make our jump shots because if we're not making our outside shots, hindi makakatanggap si (Congolese import Rod) Ebondo sa ilalim," said Macaraya. 

Joseph Sedurifa, signed by the Bakers when he became available after Batangas was eliminated, made his presence felt early and helped Ebondo and Paul Desiderio dispose of JRU. The Bakers hope he can sustain the fine form.

Racal coach Jerry Codinera, meanwhile, will need Kent Salado, Sydney Onwubere, and Jackson Corpuz to step up big in their bid to make the finals for the first time.

“It’s a big advantage if we win Game One. We will just be ready and give it our best shot,” said Codinera.

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