PHOENIX shoots for a season sweep in the PBA D-League as it tackles Tanduay in Game Two of the best-of-three Foundation Cup finals on Tuesday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
But to do that, the Accelerators must tighten up their defense in the 5 p.m. match, according to coach Eric Gonzales.
After all, the offense is already a given for a Phoenix team bannered by MVP candidate Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, and Ed Daquioag.
"We have to play together. Ang pinakamahalaga sa amin is we sprint back on defense," said Gonzales, whose team trailed for the most part of Game One before storming back to take an 84-76 win.
"Kahit naman struggling kung sino man sa kanila, we have to be patient because I know in the end I have to trust them," he added.
But the first-time finalists Rhum Masters definitely won't go down without fight.
Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson reiterated that his team, which pulled off a major upset against top-seed Racal in the semifinals, can pull through against all odds.
"In this game, we were leading for more than 23 minutes. Pero sa crunch time, we missed some crucial free throws. Tingin ko naman kaunting adjustments lang, makukuha din namin yan," said Chongson, citing the need to clamp down on defense as key to extend the series.
"Konting polish lang sa depensa," he said. "Tiwala ako sa mga players ko. Like sa semis, sa mga knockout games kami nagigising."
Two players, though, who are already fired up for Tuesday are former University of Santo Tomas teammates turned rivals Daquioag and Tanduay’s Kevin Ferrer.
The two are temporarily setting aside their friendship to lead their respective teams to the title. And while they joined forces in leading UST to the UAAP finals last year, both Ferrer and Daquioag are all business this time.
"Alam naman nila na kalaban ko sila, wala munang kaibi-kaibigan. Laro muna," Ferrer, who is trying to lead the Rhum Masters their first title, said in jest.
"Yung match-up namin, parang regular competition lang," added Phoenix guard Daquioag.
Meanwhile, the conference's MVP will be named in a brief awarding ceremony before the titanic clash. Among the candidates are Tolomia, Racal's Jonathan Grey, and Cafe France's Carl Bryan Cruz.