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PBA D-League Semis gets going

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Gab Banal guarded by CJ Perez and Jayvee Marcelino during their encounter on Jan. 18, 2018 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. (PBA Images)

Gab Banal guarded by CJ Perez and Jayvee Marcelino during their encounter on Jan. 18, 2018 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. (PBA Images)

by Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today (Pasig City Sports Center)
12 p.m. — Zark’s Burgers vs Marinerong Pilipino
2 p.m. — Che’Lu Bar and Grill vs Akari-Adamson

Marinerong Pilipino and three other touted newcomers take center stage today as the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinal round gets going today at the Pasig City Sports Center.

The Skippers, coming off a two-week break since claiming an outright Final Four seat as the No. 2 finisher in the eliminations, will come in with fresh legs in their 12 noon showdown with the Zark’s Burgers Jawbreakers at the start of their best-of-three semis series.

Clashing in the other semis pairing set at 2 p.m. are Akari-Adamson and Che’Lu Bar and Grill.

The Falcons emerged as the eliminations topnotcher and are considered as the prohibitive favorites over the fourth-seeded Revellers, who made quick work of the Gamboa Mix Coffee Lovers in the quarterfinal round last week.

A lion’s share of the spotlight, however, is expected to fall on the opener, with the sixth-ranked Jawbreakers out to ride the crest of their impressive two-game conquest of the third-seeded Scorpions in the quarterfinals.

Zark’s Burgers coach Topex Robinson admitted he won’t mind if they’re coming in as underdogs. “Ganun ang mga bata, they just enjoy (the game). You’re not looking kung lamang na ang kalaban, they just keep on playing and they’re enjoying this moment,” he said.

Robinson added that he’s also embracing the big challenge calling the shots from the sidelines against the celebrated Banal brothers, Koy and Joel, who have made their mark from the amateur to pro ranks.

“We know they are really good basketball brains and it’s just going to make me better. I have nothing to lose and I’ll be up against coaches I idolize and I’m close with, so I’m excited for the series,” he said.

Reigning NCAA league MVP CJ Perez, Cameroon center Mike Nzeusseu and reliable wingman MJ Ayaay should be at the forefront of the Jawbreakers’ charge against the Skippers’ equally-talented unit led by Rian Ayonayon, Alvin Pasaol, and Abu Tratter.

Stopping the Falcons’ top duo of Jerrick Ahanmisi and Cameroon center Papi Sarr should be the top defensive agenda of the Revellers, who will bank on the likes of comebacking Jeff Viernes, Jeepy Faundo and Jay-R Taganas.

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