SUFFERING its first loss of the season during the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinals turned out to be what Cagayan Valley needed, according to head coach Alvin Pua.
The Rising Suns found themselves on the brink of elimination after suffering a shocking 89-85 loss to Cebuana Lhuillier in Game One of their best-of-three series.
The setback came amidst the team’s perfect 11-game sweep of the eliminations.
Cagayan Valley went on to win the last two games to win the series and advance to the finals opposite Hapee Toothpaste starting on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
In hindsight, Pua said the series opener loss served as a reality check for the squad.
“Kailangan pala masaktan muna ng isang beses para matuto sila. Kailangan pala mangyari pa ‘yun kasi tumataas na ‘yung paa sa lupa tapos lumalaki na ulo,” said Pua, whose in his second finals stint as head coach of the Rising Suns.
“Pero talent-wise, kaya nila kahit sino,” the Cagayan head coach added.
Cagayan Valley will be going to the title series holding a psychological edge over Hapee, having defeated the Fresh Fighters, 80-77, in their lone elimination game showdown last January 22.
Ironically, the big win over Hapee followed by the loss to Cebuana Lhuillier in the semis.
With Cagayan Valley’s feet back on the ground, Pua refused to get carried away by his team’s victory over Hapee, saying the Rising Suns need all the help they can get.
“Star-studded sila (Hapee) at magagaling ‘yun. Sana makatulong ‘yung momentum,” said Pua.
While the series with Cebuana Lhuillier was indeed intense, Pua admitted the level of competitiveness will be even more higher against Hapee in the finals.
“Mas triple pa (siguro ‘yung intensity). Siyempre, championship na. Hindi rin sila magpapatalo,” said Pua.