MARINERONG Pilipino tries to do something it has never done before: close out a championship series.
On the cusp of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup crown, the Skippers put all of their chips on the table when they go for the jugular against EcoOil-La Salle for Game Two of the best-of-three Finals on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Falling short in the past, Marinerong Pilipino believes that this is certainly their time with MVP frontrunner Juan Gomez de Liano, veteran Jollo Go, and a scrappy Mapua core backing it up for the 12 p.m. game.
"Ito naman talaga yung goal namin. Umabot na kami sa part na ito in the past and yung mga players, gutom lahat yan na kunin na itong laro para makuha na namin yung unang championship para sa Marinero," said coach Yong Garcia, drawing inspiration from the Skippers' bridesmaid finish in the 2019 Foundation Cup where it bowed in five hard-fought games against BRT Sumisip-St. Clare.
It also helps that Gomez de Liano is also hungry for glory as he eyes his first ring after falling short in his time with University of the Philippines.
"Ever since Marinero joined, they've never won the championship. I believe this is our perfect chance to finally give them one and we'll start from there and build history together," he said after emerging as the hero of the Skippers' 72-67 Game One victory.
But the Green Archers are intent on spoiling that impending coronation with coach Derick Pumaren expecting a big bounce back from his wards.
"We understand the importance of this game and the challenge is already there for the players. We can't let ourselves fall behind early and just play catch-up. We have to be at our A-game from the very start," said the veteran mentor, himself driven to claim glory in the developmental league after previously coaching Centro Escolar University to a runner-up finish in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup.
For that to happen, though, main cogs in Michael Phillips, Kevin Quiambao, and Schonny Winston must find their grooves early or else, face the prospects of getting swept.