FLYING V put its unbeaten run in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals behind it as the Thunder turns its focus to its goal of reaching the finals in its first stint with the league.
The Thunder open their best-of-three semifinal series against Centro Escolar University on Thursday following an astounding sweep of the elimination round.
But Flying V head coach Eric Altamirano pointed out that the elims sweep hardly matters in the playoffs. What counts for him is getting the next two wins to get to the finals.
"Actually, sa team namin, kinalimutan na namin 'yung 10-0," said Altamirano during a press conference on Wednesday ahead of their semifinal match against CEU at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. "0-0 na uli. Back to square one kami."
"Focus namin is what's in front of us which is the semifinals. We will take it one game at a time and we will see from there," he added.
Led by former La Salle cager Jeric Teng and team captain Eric Salamat, the Thunder steamrolled through the elimination round, winning all 10 of their matches to gain an automatic seat in the semifinals. For Altamirano, it’s an unexpected feat.
"Nung first time that we tried to put up the team together, hindi naman kaagad kumpleto. It started kila Eric and some La Salle players. Eventually, we were able to get the other players to join us. We never expected this team to have this kind of relationship with each other because they blend with each other. I'm really happy with the turnout," he said.
In the best-of-three affair, however, the Thunder face a contender in CEU, the former CafeFrance squad which beat Batangas in the quarterfinal round.
Flying V owner Chito Villavicencio cautioned the team not to be overconfident as the Thunder resumes their drive for the Foundation Cup crown.
"This year is the maiden year of Flying V to engage in the PBA D-League. I'm very much elated that sa maiden performance nila, at least 10-0 sila sa elimination. I was told that that's only the fourth in history. With that, I'm very proud and I'm sure kaya nakuha 'yan, bukod sa magagaling mga players, they practiced for it, worked for it and were determined to win the games.
"But we should not be too confident. I was asking coach here kung sino kalaban at nakikita ko na formidable opponents din 'yun. Kapag tayo, nag-relax and too confident, baka madisgrasya tayo," said Villavicencio.
Altamirano agrees that the other semifinalists in Aspirants Cup champion Cignal, CEU, and Marinerong Pilipino are all formidable teams that got better as the Foundation Cup went on. And if Flying V hopes to move forward, it has to brace for tough battles against the Rod Ebondo-led squad.
"Sa nakikita ko, habang tumatagal 'yung tournament, lumalakas sila... But we are not looking beyond that. We are looking at the task at hand, which is playing CEU. CEU is also a team-to-beat. They've been there a lot of times. Siguro experience-wise, Ebondo has been there in the D-League for so long. He played in the finals," said Altamirano.