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La Salle, Letran gun for second wins in D-League semis

Games Today
(Filoil EcoOil Centre, San Juan)
2 p.m. — University of Perpetual Help
System Dalta vs EcoOil-La Salle
4 p.m. — Wangs Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran vs Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda

ECOOIL-LA SALLE shoots for a finals return trip as Wangs Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran tries to extend its winning tradition with a potential championship showdown in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

Sporting 1-0 leads in the best-of-three Final Four duels, the Green Archers and the Knights go for the jugular against the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, respectively, today at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

No. 2 La Salle, fresh from an easy 107-78 Game 1 win, takes on the No. 3 Perpetual in the opening match at 2 p.m. followed by the main event between fourth-seeded Letran and top-ranked San Beda at 4 p.m.

The Green Archers captured the Aspirants’ Cup title last year with former mentor Derrick Pumaren then still at the helm. A win today would strengthen their bid for a similar result albeit under the new system of Topex Robinson.

“It’s a best of three series so ang challenge sa amin (our challenge) is to be better in Game 2. Kung ‘di namin matatapatan iyung level na nilaro namin sa Game 1 (If we can’t match out Game 1 level) then wala kami sa tamang direksiyon (we are not going in the right direction),” La Salle deputy coach Gian Nazario, who is assuming D-League coaching chores, said.

Letran, the three-time reigning NCAA champion, is also out to replicate its thrilling 93-87 win from 24 points down against long-time rival San Beda.

“Hopefully, makuha na namin iyung Game 2 (I hope we can take Game 2). We’re ready. We’ll take a quarter-by-quarter approach. We’ll just play our game and stick to our game plan,” coach Rensy Bajar said in his first finals bid after taking over from Bonnie Tan this offseason. But their capable foes are determined to fight and live another day.

“DLSU is a tough team. Hoping our adjustments in Game 1 will work for us to extend the series,” Perpetual coach Myk Saguiguit said.

“It’s a good test for our team’s character in reacting to a tough loss. The team is in high spirits in practices,” San Beda tactician Yuri Escueta said. — John Bryan Ulanday

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