PBA Philippine Cup

Terrafirma hoping to ‘change the narrative’ with first playoff stint in 8 years

Delfin Dioquino

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Terrafirma hoping to ‘change the narrative’ with first playoff stint in 8 years

KEY PIECE. Javi Gomez de Liau00f1o in action for the Terrafirma Dyip in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

Leaning on the trio of Juami Tiongson, Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Stephen Holt, Terrafirma reaches the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2016 Governors' Cup

MANILA, Philippines – A coveted playoff spot after a grueling eight-year wait gives Terrafirma hope that it is the start of something new.

Powered by Juami Tiongson, Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Stephen Holt, the Dyip completed the quarterfinal cast in the PBA Philippine Cup after a 104-96 win over NorthPort at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Wednesday, May 8.

The trio combined for 69 points in the sudden death for the eighth and last quarterfinal berth as Terrafirma reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 Governors’ Cup.

“Hopefully, little by little, we can gain the respect from everyone in the organization. I think we deserve it as well,” said Gomez de Liaño.

“We’ve been working hard. Throughout the years, we’ve been receiving bashing and just not good reviews, but I hope with this playoff campaign that we change the narrative.”

The Dyip have been the laughingstock of the league owing to their string of poor performances through the years.

Since that maiden quarterfinal appearance in the 2016 Governors’ Cup, Terrafirma failed to make the playoffs of the next 16 conferences.

But this conference has seen the Dyip turn over a new leaf.

Fact is, with six wins in this All-Filipino tournament, Terrafirma already doubled its measly three-win total out of 34 games last season, which saw the Dyip endure a franchise-worst 25-game losing streak.

“I think this year, we’re all in the same page and we really believe,” said Gomez de Liaño.

Gomez de Liaño played a crucial role in breaking that long playoff dry spell, pouring 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as Terrafirma fought back from an 82-86 deficit.

His three-pointer with under eight minutes remaining allowed the Dyip to surge ahead at 92-88 before Holt and Tiongson brought the team home.

Tiongson showed the way for Terrafirma with a game-high 30 points on top of 5 rebounds and 3 assists, while Holt – the top pick in the previous draft – posted a near triple-double of 18 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.

Big man Isaac Go added 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks for the Dyip, who barged into the playoffs for the first time under the tutelage of head coach Johnedel Cardel.

It is only bound to get tougher for Terrafirma, though, as it faces a San Miguel side that nearly swept the elimination round with a 10-1 record.

The defending champion Beermen also boast of a twice-to-beat advantage.

But the Dyip are unfazed.

“Anything can happen. All I know is my players really want to play in this quarterfinals,” said Cardel. “We’ll do everything to get one win. Who knows?”

Rookie forward Zavier Lucero netted 17 points and 6 rebounds off the bench to pace the Batang Pier, who failed to sustain their hot start as they missed the playoff bus.

After winning four of its first five games of the conference, NorthPort dropped six of its last seven matches to wrap up its campaign.

The Scores

Terrafirma 104 – Tiongson 30, Gomez de Liano 21, Holt 18, Go 13, Ramos 7, Carino 7, Sangalang 4, Alolino 2, Calvo 2, Camson 0, Mina 0, Cahilig 0.

NorthPort 96 – Lucero 17, Flores 16, Munzon 15, Tolentino 13, Zamar 10, Navarro 9, Amores 7, Yu 4, Rosales 2, Cuntapay 2, Adamos 1, Bulanadi 0, Chan 0.

Quarters: 27-33, 55-54, 82-81, 104-96.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.