D-League playoffs road gets tough but AMA glad to see Juami Tiongson return to PBA with NLEX
A steady contributor for the Titans, Juami Tiongson joined NLEX Road Warriors' preparation for the PBA Commissioner's Cup. Dante Peralta

AMA Online Education braces for a tough stint in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup playoffs especially with their chances for a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals out of their hands.

After finishing the elimination round with a 5-4 win-loss record, AMA still has a chance to claim the fourth spot and a win-once incentive. But for that to happen, Jose Rizal University (4-4) needs to beat Tanduay (5-3) by seven to nine points on Tuesday at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao for the Titans to end up with a better quotient.

But AMA coach Mark Herrera has a bigger problem: finding a way to fill the void left Juami Tiongson.

A steady contributor for the Titans, Tiongson joined NLEX Road Warriors' preparation for the PBA Commissioner's Cup that will unfurl on March 17.

"Hindi na namain iniisip yun," said Herrera on whether they’re hoping for a big JRU win. "Basta kami ngayon nag-aadjust sa pagkawala ni Juami Tiongson kasi kinuha na sya ng NLEX sa PBA."

Herrera admitted Tiongson's departure was a big blow to the Titans, who are hoping to make the semifinals for the first time. But he was quick to add that the AMA management is happy for the heady playmaker.

"Kung nandito si Juami, I'm very confident na lahat kaya namin kasi lahat naman ng talo namin hindi tataas ng five points (yung lamang). Pero now 50-50 kami sa lahat ng games namin," said Herrera.

"Ang AMA management e sobrang saya ng nabigyan (ng chance) yung isang player na makabalik sa PBA," he added. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros