Tip-off is at 6 p.m. as KCS needs only to win once to book their ticket in the best-of-three Visayas Leg Finals opposite undefeated MJAS Zenith Talisay City.
With the squad finally complete with the return of ace point guard Jerick Cañada from a hamstring injury, ARQ has other plans in mind as it tries to grab a win to force a rubber match for the other slot in the finals which will take place on Wednesday.
ARQ assistant coach Jerry Abuyabor said he and the coaching staff, led by head coach Francis Auquico, just wants the players to focus on the things that they possibly can.
In particular, Abuyabor emphasized that the Heroes need to do well on their transition defense defensive rotations.
“We just want our players to play their best game as possible,” said Abuyabor of ARQ, which trounced Dumaguete, 92-76 on Sunday to advance to the semis. “We want to focus on things we can control since we’re facing a KCS team that is good in transition and ball movement.
“We just want our boys to bring their 100-percent on defense and give their best for us to advance into the finals,” he added.
It will be a tall task for ARQ considering that KCS has had their number so far in this competition, first beating them 77-66 on April 20 before repeating the feat three days later, 75-66. The second match was particularly brutal for ARQ as they fell behind by 20, 7-27, after just the first 10 minutes of action.
Despite their dominance over ARQ, KCS head coach Mike Reyes is not taking any chances, especially against a squad filled with seasoned veterans such as Reed Juntilla, Jojo Tangkay, and Ferdinand Lusdoc—players he’s very familiar with owing to their time together in many commercial basketball leagues in years past.
“We’ll have the same strategy as our second-round game. We have to limit Tangkay, Lusdoc, and Reed,” said Reyes. “We’ll make a few adjustments on defense and offense but mostly, just mental preparation.”
Like ARQ, KCS is now also at full strength with the return of combo guard Ping Exciminiano and big man Bernie Bregondo, both of whom have missed substantial time because of hamstring injuries. Reyes, though, saw the injuries as blessings in disguise as it has allowed his reserves to showcase their skills as well.
“I take our injuries as a blessing in disguise,” shared Reyes. “Because of the injuries, the third group has had an opportunity to show the team what they are capable of.”
The Finals will begin on either Thursday or Friday, depending on whether the semis series reaches the limit.
The champion of the Visayas leg will wait on the kings of Mindanao for the best-of-five Grand Finals.
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