ONLY two teams remain standing in a conference littered with broken records and stunning upsets.
Cignal and Centro Escolar University dispute the PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown when they meet on the court in Game One of the finals on Tuesday.
The match starts at 5 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, with the Hawkeyes looking to complete a season sweep.
But the Aspirants' Cup champions will have to do it without big man Raymar Jose, who will miss the finale owing to his stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
"Losing Raymar during the Finals is a tough one," said Cignal coach Boyet Fernandez. "But we as a team understand that SEA Games basketball gold is very important to our country."
Fernandez, though, is unfazed in preparing his team to avoid suffering the same fate of top seed Flying V at the hands of the confident Scorpions.
In Jose's absence, Cignal will rely heavily on Jason Perkins down low while former pros Pamboy Raymundo and Jonathan Uyloan man the backcourt.
"We know that CEU is a very good team which is well-coached, and matching up with them without Raymar is a tough one. But we will find a way to limit (Rod) Ebondo," said. Fernandez.
Still, CEU has momentum on its side and will try to capitalize as it plays the spoiler role in Cignal's bid for back-to-back titles.
"Wala namang nag-akala na makakaabot kami rito. Hindi naman masamang subukan kaya sabi ko sa players ko, we just try to stay focused and stick to our gameplan," said CEU coach Yong Garcia.