CAGAYAN Valley and Hapee brace for a highly-physical PBA D-League Aspirants Cup title showdown starting on Monday in the The Arena in San Juan.
Rising Suns coach Alvin Pua, who had accused semifinal rival Cebuana Lhuillier of intentionally hurting his players, is convinced the title series will be even tougher.
“Bilog ang bola. Pero sigurado ako mas magiging pisikal itong finals,” said Pua, preparing for a much tougher match than their elimination-round encounter with Hapee, which he described as “Tsamba lang.”
Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc also sees a physical best-of-three finals series.
“We are looking at a defense-oriented series,” said Magsanoc. “We must be ready to handle and level up with the physicality of the series.”
The top two teams after the end of the elimination round, the No. 1 Rising Suns and second seed Fresh Fighters begin battle at 3 p.m.
The Rising Suns swept the eleven-game eliminations but Moala Tautuaa-led squad needed three games to dispose of the Gems in the semifinals.
The Fresh Fighters, on the other hand, had a 10-1 record in the eliminations and swept Café France in the semifinals.
Cagayan Valley handed Hapee its only loss of the conference, 80-77, in the elimination round.
Hapee is on a one-week break after finishing Café France early, and Magsanoc hopes the respite will do more good than harm going to the series that could go down the wire.
“The advantage of having rest, we hope na nagamit namin ng maganda,” said Magsanoc.