CEBUANA Lhuillier and Hapee slug it out for one last time on Monday for the right to earn the last Finals berth in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Splitting the first two games of their best-of-3 semifinals series, coaches Ronnie Magsanoc and Boycie Zamar both know their teams’ Game 3 tussle, set at 3 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, will depend on which of the two wants it more.
“We lived to fight another day," said Zamar, who steered the Gems as the top-seed team this conference before losing three straight up to Game 1 of the semis. "Even though Hapee is undermanned, they're winners and they're champions."
"Us, we haven't proven anything yet. Though we topped the eliminations, that doesn't guarantee us anything," he said.
Game 1 went the way of the Fresh Fighters, 82-71, as the duo of Ola Adeogun and Art dela Cruz overwhelmed Cebuana's frontcourt.
The Gems retaliated in Game 2, 76-73, behind the 40-point heroics of Allan Mangahas to end Cebuana's three-game slide and set the stage for do-or-die battle.
Though defeated, Magsanoc is still optimistic for Hapee despite the missed chance to close the series last Thursday.
"We've already played five do-or-die games. We thought we were already out as early as last month," he said. "We are thankful for the opportunity to play again. We'll just give our best and do what it takes to hopefully get past them."
What bothered the Hapee coach was the poor defensive job the Fresh Fighters did on Mangahas in Game 2, as they allowed the veteran guard to pick up steam and scorch them whenever he got hold of the ball.
"It was an outstanding effort from Allan. But right now, he is our opponent. We have to find ways to defend him," said Magsanoc. "We just have to take a look at what happened and try to play better defense against them."
Zamar believes neither of the teams will own the momentum for the winner-take-all affair, saying, "It's a knockout game and it's all about mental toughness. In the end, the tougher one will prevail."
Idle CafeFrance awaits the winner of the Hapee-Cebuana series for the best-of-3 Final set to begin on Thursday.