Hawkeyes, Tile Masters begin D-League Aspirants Cup title showdown
Racal coach Jerry Codinera eyes his first D-League title, while Boyet Fernandez looks to add to his six championships. Dante Peralta

SIX-time PBA D-League champion coach Boyet Fernandez insists he has no advantage over Jerry Codinera, who reached the finals in his first conference in the developmental league, as Cignal-San Beda and Racal Tile clash in the Aspirants Cup finals.

The opener of  the best-of-three series starts 4p.m. on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

"There’s no advantage. I really respect coach Jerry. It will be a tough series for us," said Fernandez.

Fernandez, who led star-studded NLEX squads to six D-League championships, is trying to steer the Hawkeyes, to the championship in their first try.

Racal, meanwhile, entered the league in 2014 but is making its first finals appearance. It tapped Codinera only months before the Aspirants Cup.

Fernandez said defense will be the key against a Racal squad featuring NCAA all-stars Kent Salado, Rey Nambatac and Sidney Onwubere. 

“We have to make the necessary adjustments because they have very good players. All-Star players at least,” he said.

"So if you’re going to beat an All-Star team, you really have to play defense and be disciplined." 

Codinera’s young team is reinforced by veterans Jackson Corpuz and Allan Mangahas, who came up big against Cafe Fance in the deciding match in the semifinals.

“I will just continue to trust my players and we'll try to keep it close and we'll try to motivate the players coming to the Finals,” said Codinera.


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