Tigers, G Lanterns begin Pilipinas Super League title series


EXPECT a dogfight when defending champion Davao Occidental-Cocolife and the Pampanga G Lanterns square off Monday in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals duel for the Manila Bankers Life-Pilipinas Super League Pro Division Second Conference Dumper Cup crown at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The match is set at 6 p.m., with the combatants keen on gaining the crucial head start in the race-to-2 series.

The G Lanterns, boosted by the late conference addition of prized big man Justine Baltazar, completed the stunning ouster of eliminations pacesetter San Juan with a 75-61 win in the second game of their best-of-3 semifinals showdown last Wednesday to reach the Big Dance.

“Siyempre unang-una, sobrang sarap at sobrang saya kasi lahat ng hirap namin sa practice nagbunga na. Nasuklian iyong paghihirap at pagod namin,” said G Lanterns forward King Caralipio, who had 19 points and six rebounds in the semis-clinching Game 2, said. “Siguro ang naging sikreto namin all throughout sa journey namin ay iyong samahan naming pinatibay.”

“Sa araw-araw naming pagsasama, mas nabuo ang team namin at tumibay. Para na kaming magkakapatid kaya siguro nakapasok kami sa finals,” he added.

Aside from Baltazar and Caralipio, the wards of coach and Pampanga governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda will pin their hopes on Kurt Reyson, Louie Sangalang, and Archie Concepcion in the meet presented by Dumper party-list, Winzir, and Skin Care Depot, co-presented by SCD Cosmetics, and supported by NET 25, Adcon, Wcube Solutions Inc., MDC, Unisol, Don Benitos, and Finn Cotton, with PBA and Gilas Pilipinas great Marc Pingris serving as Commissioner.

Unlike the G Lanterns, the Tigers had to finish off gritty Pampanga Royce in three games in the semis, capped by an 88-80 triumph in Game 3 last Friday to keep their title-retention bid alive.

The likes of former Philippine Basketball Association players John Wilson, Larry Rodriguez, Renzo Subido and Keith Agovida and Gab Dagangon and Marco Balagtas will be counted upon by Davao Occidental.

The G Lanterns nipped the Tigers 87-84 in their eliminations tiff last February 10 in Davao City.

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