THE Cebu Dolphins and Manila Sharks battle for the Baseball Philippines crown for the fourth time as the showdown for the Series 9 championship begins on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Cebu and Manila face each other for the second consecutive time in the finals with the Dolphins looking to bounce back after being swept by the Sharks in Season 8.
Cebu finished the eliminations as the top-seeded team with an 11-4 record and advanced to the championship round by defeating the Alabang Tigers in the semifinals.
Manila, the defending champion and third ranked team, took a harder route, overcoming the twice-to-beat advantage of Dumaguete in the semifinals to arrange another title duel with Cebu.
With both teams no stranger to each other in the postseason, coaches of the Finals protagonists admitted said the series is too close to call when asked to assess their chances in yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s U.N. Ave.
“Mahirap sabihin kung ano mangyayari sa series pero kung sino ang makakuha ng Game 1, malaki ang pag-asa na makaderecho na,” said Cebu Dolphins coach Isaac Bacarisas, who was accompanied by his players Joennard Pareja, Lorenzo Ubungen and Ram Casey Alipio.
Manila is shooting for its fourth consecutive title but the team admits that Cebu can match-up well against them.
“The last two championships that we had, we swept Batangas and Cebu but this time siguro, mahirap mag-predict dahil maganda ang match-up ng mga teams,” said Manila coach Jhoel Palanog, who was joined in the forum by assistant general manager Eric Cadavillo and player Emerson Atilano.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series is set at 1 p.m. Saturday, with Game 2 to be played the following day. Game 3, if necessary, will be played on July 21.