MANILA, Philippines - Jose Rizal U, already assured of a quarterfinal berth, guns for a place in the top 4 against Cebuana Lhuillier at the close of the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup elimination round today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Heavy Bombers (5-4) secured their place in the next round with some help from Fruitas (5-5), which eliminated Boracay Rum (4-6) from playoff contention with a crucial 73-61 victory on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, JRU coach Vergel Meneses and his troops are still motivated to win their last elimination round assignment against Cebuana Gems (4-5) to clinch number four seeding and earn a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
"It was big relief for us," said Meneses of the Fruitas' victory. "We'll be more comfortable playing with the pressure off our shoulders. But we’re still very motivated to win because we want to clinch that (twice-to-beat) advantage."
The Heavy Bombers have won their last four so they have some momentum going for them in the scheduled 2 p.m. duel that is expected to be fast-paced with lots of physicality.
The day's other match pits Erase Xfoliant (2-7) against semifinalist-in-waiting Blackwater Sports at 4 p.m.
"My players have shown some maturity the past few games so I’m confident we can get the job done. The week-long break also allowed us to re-energize and focus for this game," Meneses said.
Cebuana Lhuillier will be under tremendous pressure no doubt. Although they managed to stave off elimination following their 112-94 blowout win against Informatics last week, the Gems are hard-pressed to win their last elimination game to barge into the quarterfinals.
"It will be very tough to beat JRU because they are playing solid lately. I just hope we could build on this win," Cebuana coach Beaujing Acot said.
Fruitas and Big Chill will be keenly awaiting the result of this game.
The Shakers will be rooting for the Heavy Bombers because a win by JRU would pave their entry into the quarterfinals. Big Chill, on the other hand, wants the Gems to win to clinch the No. 4 spot and the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Should JRU wins and winds up tied with third placed Cagayan Valley and Big Chill (6-4), the Superchargers will be relegated at no.5 due to inferior quotient.