THE Cebu Dolphins and the Manila Sharks are expecting a down-the-wire championship showdown when they begin their best-of-three series this Saturday for the Baseball Philippines Series 9 crown.
The Dolphins and the Sharks will be facing each other in the finals for the second consecutive time and fourth overall in the league in what has become the hottest rivalry in the league.
The Sharks have a 2-1 edge in their finals match-ups after a sweep of the Dolphins in Series 8.
Things could be different this time around.
Cebu finished the elimination round as the top-seed having won 11 of 15 elimination-round games. Manila lost several national team players which helped them in its string of three straight championships but remained a formidable finals opponent after advancing to the finals as the third-ranked team.
“Mahirap sabihin kung anong mangyayari sa series,” said Cebu coach Isaac Bacarisas during Tuesday’s PSA Forum.
The teams agreed that Game One, which will be played on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, will be crucial.
“The last two championships that we had, we swept our opponents,” said Manila coach Jhoel Palanog. “This time siguro, mahirap sabihin kung sino ang mananalo. It’s going to be a chess match.”
Cebu pitcher and infielder Lorenzo Ubungen said that every play will be important in the series.
“It seems like we are in the same position as last year, we are playing Manila again,” said Ubungen, who was accompanied by teammates Ram Alipio and Joennard Pareja. “The series will go down the wire, every mistake will cost you.”
Ubungen, a Fil-American based in San Francisco, said Manila is still favored in the series.
“They are still the team to beat because they are the defending champions,” said Ubungen.