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Skippers eye D-League crown

Game today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
12 p.m. — EcoOil-La Salle vs Marinero

Marinerong Pilipino tries to do something it has never done before: Close out a championship series.

On the cusp of the 2022 Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup crown, the Skippers put all of their chips on the table when they go for the jugular against EcoOil-La Salle in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals series today at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Falling short in the past, Marinerong Pilipino believes that this is certainly their time with Most Valuable Player frontrunner Juan Gomez de Liaño, veteran Jollo Go, and a scrappy Mapua core backing it up for the 12 p.m. game.

“This is actually our goal. We have been here before and our players are all hungry to win this game and clinch our first title,” said Marinero coach Yong Garcia, drawing inspiration from their bridesmaid finish in the 2019 Foundation Cup where they bowed to Sumisip-St. Clare in five hard-fought games.

It also helps that Gomez de Liaño is hungry for glory as he eyes his first ring after falling short of winning a title for University of the Philippines in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

“Ever since Marinero joined, they’ve never won the championship,” Gomez de Liaño said following their 72-67 win in Game 1.

“I believe this is our perfect chance to finally give them one and we’ll start from there and build history together.”

But the Green Archers are focused on spoiling that impending coronation with coach Derick Pumaren expecting a big bounce back from his wards.

“We understand the importance of this game and the challenge is already there for the players,” said the veteran mentor, who is also driven to claim glory in the D-League after previously coaching Centro Escolar University to a runner-up finish in the 2019 Aspirants’ Cup.

“We can’t let ourselves fall behind early and just play catch-up. We have to be at our A-game from the very start.”

For that to happen, though, main cogs in Michael Phillips, Kevin Quiambao, and Schonny Winston must find their grooves early or else, face the prospects of getting swept.

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