“We need to play harder” Mandaue coach admits ahead of Game 2 vs Talisay in Governor’s Cup finals
Emmanuel B. Villaruel (The Freeman) - May 8, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Mandaue City Ballers head coach Gary Cortes said the return high-scoring big man Kenneth Brillo from a one-game suspension is absolutely a big help to their team.

However, the decorated bench strategist gamely admitted that they need to play harder if they are to live and fight for another day against the defending champions Talisay City Aquastars in their best-of-three finals in the 2019 Cebu Governor’s Cup Inter-Cities and Municipalities Under 21 Developmental Basketball Tournament.

“The return of Brillo is a huge help to our team,” said Cortes, who piloted the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers to a rare grandslam feat in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) from 2016 to 2018. “But we need to play harder.”

Fighting behind enemy lines during the series opener, the Ballers built a huge 15-point lead in the second half but suffered a monumental collapse resulting to a heart-rending 76-81 defeat to the Aquastars last May 3 at the Talisay City Sports Complex.

In that game, Mandaue forced Talisay into a total of 26 turnovers but the Aquastars banked on their plethora of talents to wipe out the Ballers in bench scoring, 35-16.

That spelled the big difference for the Aquastars as they moved a win away from defending their throne. They clinched last year’s title with a perfect 14-0 record.

The Talisaynons could practically wrap up their second straight championship if they reaffirm their mastery over the Ballers in Game 2 scheduled on Thursday (May 9) at the Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex.

Talisay coach Rey Michael Gurrea himself professed that it’s going to be a completely different ballgame owing to the presence of Brillo in Mandaue’s offensive arsenal this time.

“It’s going to be a different ballgame with the return of their big man (Brillo) in Game 2. On our end, we just have to make the necessary adjustments,” said Gurrea, a champion player during his prime with the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars. “We can’t be sure of our chances but we will strive hard and give our all-out best to get the win.”

As the Aquastars shoot for the title clincher, Gurrea will again squeeze the most from his top guns in Jay Deiparine, Keaton Taburnal, Kendrick Abarquez, and Raffy Bacasmas. He also has Clark Louis Ruedas, Ronan Briones, Elmer Villabrille, Jhaylord Castro, Gerald Iñigo and Oudy Acedo at his disposal.

Mandaue, on the other hand, will summon the likes of Archie Buscay, Paul John Gonzaga, Lemuel Gonzaga, Jhun Art Marco, and Michael de los Angeles to back up their vaunted tandem of Brillo and Gabriel Cometa as they try to extend the series into its full route.

BASKETBALL GARY CORTES
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