PRETENDERS are gone and only the contenders remain as the semifinals of the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup begins on Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Last conference’s runner-up Che’Lu Bar and Grill takes on youthful Centro Escolar University at 4 p.m., followed by the battle between Go for Gold and Marinerong Pilipino-TIP at 6 p.m.
Finishing the eliminations with an 8-2 card, the Revellers are motivated to continue their tear and get themselves closer to advance once again to the finals.
“For any other coaches, happy ako na were on top. Pero pagdating sa semis back to zero na yan,” said Che’Lu coach Stevenson Tiu.
“Walang pushover na teams. Ang mindset lang namin is to beat any team na makaharap namin, and ngayon, CEU yun.”
Tiu will bank on his leaders Jeff Viernes, Levi Hernandez, Jay-R Taganas and Jessie Collado against the young Scorpions group bannered by Orlan Wamar, Pierce Chan and Rich Guinitaran.
For CEU acting coach Derrick Pumaren, making it to this level is already an overachievement for his wards and he seeks to make the most of this rare opportunity.
“Nobody expected us to be here. We are the surprise team in the semis,” he said. “So it's going to be a tall order for us playing the number one team in the league and we just have to compete and play disciplined basketball for us to pull off a surprise.”
In the other series, the Engineers try to exorcise their demons after losing both of their elimination duels against the Scratchers.
“They are the only team we did not beat this conference. We just want to make the game close and hopefully, snatch the game in the end,” said coach Koy Banal as he will lean on his leaders Trevis Jackson and Robbie Manalang for Game One.
But despite being the higher-seed in this face off, Go for Gold coach Charles Tiu admits that he isn’t that confident heading into the playoffs.
“Well, I’m honestly not feeling too confident. We will have to just see how the games go. We still are missing three key players and it will be tough,” he said.
The Scratchers are hoping that the entry of ex-pro Jerick Canada will be a huge shot in their arm to pair up with leaders Jai Reyes, Gab Banal and Jerwin Gaco in the semifinals.