At last, Terrafirma finds its place in PBA quarterfinals

Javi Gomez de Liano Terrafirma Dyip PBA Philippine Cup

Javi Gomez de Liano helps Terrafirma slip past NorthPort and into the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals. –PBA IMAGES

Loud music blasted out of the Terrafirma locker room, as the Dyip celebrated a rare achievement for a franchise that spent years being a perennial cellar dweller.

The team’s 104-96 victory over the NorthPort Batang Pier in Wednesday’s lone PBA Philippine Cup game at Ninoy Aquino Stadium sealed the eighth and final quarterfinals berth.

Not only did the result end a 16-conference playoff drought, it extended the Cinderella run of a team that may have changed the narrative of its gloomy label.

“Hopefully the reputation of Terrafirma changes,” Isaac Go told the Inquirer before the Dyip claimed just their second playoff appearance ever. “I hope that people don’t just pass over us and that [teams] would be locked and focused when they face us.”

Big games from Javi Gomez de Liano, unquestioned leader Juami Tiongson and rookie Stephen Holt allowed Terrafirma to extend its campaign and have a rare taste of playoff basketball.

The reward comes with a catch, however. Terrafirma will face top seed San Miguel Beer in their quarterfinals matchup, hoping to do the impossible of winning twice.

They meet on Saturday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

“Like I told the team, let’s not be overconfident,” said Tiongson. “The fact that we made the playoffs doesn’t mean that the job’s done. There are still games to be played. Who knows, anything can happen.”

The Dyip have won five games, the most in a conference under coach Johnedel Cardel. But they had to share eighth spot with the Batang Pier after the 11-game eliminations, resulting in the midweek fight for survival.

There were memorable victories by Terrafirma in the all-Filipino tournament, like Tiongson’s triple against Blackwater and Holt’s go-ahead layup during the previous meeting with NorthPort.

But Go also noted that Terrafirma could have produced more wins, if not for some close defeats as well.

“[Winning] five games is like a blessing for us,” he said. “But we lost a lot of close games as well because we know that nothing’s given, it’s all earned.”

Regardless of how their conference ends, the next question facing the Dyip will obviously be on whether the core can stay intact for a chance to build on their impressive run.

If that happens, instead of the norm of seeing players come and go, Go would like to continue what they have already started.

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“It’s already our pride that we want to come in and compete, we just don’t come here and enjoy,” said Go.