Dyip, Batang Pier dispute last playoff ticket

Juami Tiongson (with ball): This is what we all crave for—the competition. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Juami Tiongson (with ball): This is what we all crave for—the competition. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

After putting up surprising starts in the PBA Philippine Cup, Terrafirma and NorthPort are left to battle it out on Wednesday for the right to fight another day—which could also be in the literal sense with the winner entering the quarterfinals as the No. 8 seed.

The Dyip will be shooting for their first playoff appearance in eight years in the 7:30 p.m. game at Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila, as the Batang Pier are just as eager to push their own agenda and prove that they can play with the league’s best.

Fiery point guard Juami Tiongson swears that Terrafirma is up for the challenge.

“It’s going to be a battle of who wants it more,” he told the Inquirer on the eve of the tussle that will complete the playoff cast of the league’s crown jewel tournament.

“Coach Bonnie (Tan) is a great coach with a lot of experience so I’m sure they’ll come out aggressive and ready,” he added of the Batang Pier. “I don’t expect anything less from them.”

Both clubs finished the preliminaries with an identical 5-6 records, with the Dyip coming into the match already owning a win over the Batang Pier.

The winner gets to see postseason action, but for how many games will be the question as No. 1 San Miguel Beer awaits in the quarterfinals with the Beermen needing just one win to advance.

Terrafirma has been resurgent thanks largely to the great plays of Tiongson and rookie Stephen Holt, as the Dyip won their most games since the 2016 Governors’ Cup.

Must-see affair

NorthPort, on the other hand, won four of their first five games in this conference and even managed to lead the league in major statistical races. A closer look at that run, however, shows that the Batang Pier crumbled in battling the likes of Magnolia, Barangay Ginebra, Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer—clubs that have championships to show.

The match is shaping up as must-see affair as it will feature rising NorthPort stars Arvin Tolentino, Joshua Munzon, Will Navarro and promising rookies Cade Flores and Zav Lucero going toe-to-toe with Terrafirma’s own in Tiongson, Holt, Javi Gomez de Liaño and Isaac Go.

“NorthPort is a great team with a lot of youth and energy with Arvin leading them,” Tiongson said. “They led the league in fast break points and steals so we have to really take care of our turnovers.

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“This is what we all crave for—the competition. We’re excited and looking forward to it,” he went on.Meanwhile, the league has begun accepting entries for the 49th Season’s Rookie Draft. INQ