GAMES TODAY (EAC Gym, Manila)
2 p.m.—Freego Jeans vs Blackwater
4 p.m.—Junior Powerade vs Cebuana Lhuillier
MANILA—An upset is the least coach Luigi Trillo expects when his unbeaten Cebuana Lhuillier takes on the winless Junior Powerade in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup today.
The Gems shoot for a third win and the solo lead in Group B even as Trillo remains wary of the Tigers’ improving play in their 4 p.m. match at Emilio Aguinaldo Gym in Manila.
“We can’t take them for granted,” noted Trillo. “They are a tough match-up once they run and their three-point shots start falling.”
Blackwater also goes up against another winless squad, Freego Jeans, in a Group A battle at 2 p.m.
Coach Leo Isaac thinks his Elite have hit their stride after a 72-69 triumph over RnW Pacific Pipes two weeks ago.
“I think the players are starting to believe that we have a good chance of winning,” said Isaac as the Elite try to forge a four-way logjam at 2-1 in Group A.
Allein Maliksi—used sparingly by the Philippine Patriots in the recent Asean Basketball League—powered the Gems to back-to-back routs over Café France (83-62) and FCA (80-58).
Benedict Fernandez have also stepped up for the preseason favorite Gems along with Alfred Mandani, Ariel Mepana and Kevin Alas.
“We have to set the tone early,” said Trillo. “In our first two games, we didn’t play well in the first half.”
Trillo added that the Gems need to watch out for the Tigers’ John Smith and Mark Jeffries, the Filipino-American recruits beefing up the roster made up mainly of UP cagers.