Battle royale tipped as Cebuana, Cagayan clash for place in D-League Aspirants Cup Finals
Cebuana Lhuillier coach Boycie Zamar says the Gems lacked the mental toughness to finish off Cagayan Valley in Game Two. Dante Peralta

CAGAYAN Valley and Cebuana Lhuillier meet for one final time for a place in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.

The Rising Suns and the Gems fight it out at 3 p.m., with the winner arranging a title showdown against Hapee Toothpaste.

Cagayan Valley forced a winner-take-all match after tying the best-of-three series at 1-1 following a 98-93 victory over Cebuana in Game Two on Monday.

The Rising Suns, who went undefeated in the elimination round to gain the top-seeding in the semis, bounced back after suffering their first loss of the conference during the series opener, 89-85.

Game Three is expected to be another down-the-wire battle as the series has turned emotional following the Game Two confrontation between Cagayan Valley coach Alvin Pua and Cebuana player Kevin Ferrer.

Pua and Cebuana counterpart Boycie Zamar also had a heated verbal argument in Game One after the Gems coach allegedly ‘threatened’ Cagayan Valley player Don Trollano.

“It’s anybody’s ball game. Bilog ang bola,” said Pua on the eve of the do-or-die match.

Pua hopes the Rising Suns will be able to control the rebounds as he believes Cebuana has an edge with its bigs despite rookie Moala Tautuaa submitting 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Game Two victory

“Sa totoo lang, mas malakas ang lineup ng Cebuana. Wala naman talaga kaming malaki. Si (Moala Tautuaa) lang ang malaki namin na athletic na pwedeng makipag-sabayan,” Pua said.

Zamar hopes the Gems already learned their lessons in Game Two as he believed the team lost the mental toughness to finish off the Rising Suns.

“Masama ‘yung laro namin because of the mental lapses. But then again, winning the series is doable,” Zamar said.

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