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Terrafirma’s playoff bid a tribute to Cardel’s leadership, says Tiongson

For a change, Terrafirma isn’t headed to an early vacation.

The Dyip on Wednesday night caught the last bus to the PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup quarterfinals by beating NorthPort, ending an eight-year playoff drought for a franchise wherein success has seemingly proven to be elusive.

“Usually, ano na kami nito e, Boracay na kami,” said Juami Tiongson moments after their 104-96 win at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

“Most of the time, at this time of the conference, nasa Boracay na kami, nagbabakasyon na kami.”

The star guard told as much to reporters with a wide grin, but he actually encapsulated how Terrafirma’s campaigns have been ever since the ball club booked its first-ever playoff appearance in the 2016 Governors’ Cup.

After the team, then known as Mahindra and had interim coach Chris Gavina, reached the quarters of the said tilt as the fifth seed, it went on to miss the playoffs for 16 straight conferences — a stretch that included winless campaigns.

Tiongson himself was part of the Dyip teams that failed to notch a win in a tournament, the most recent of which was the 2022 Philippine Cup that saw them go 0-11 during what would become a 25-game losing skid.

That’s why the veteran floor general poured it all in the playoff for the no. 8 seed against the Batang Pier, which he said also happened to be the first-ever experience of a knockout game in the professional ranks.

“To have that chance and opportunity to play in a knockout game–kasi ako, first knockout game ko rin, so nung nalaman ko na magna-knockout game, na-excite ako, honestly. As in. Parang pakiramdam ko, UAAP,” the Ateneo product said.

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Tiongson already had 18 in the first half. He eventually finished with a game-high 30 points, none bigger than his three-point play conversion against Fran Yu with 1:33 left to play to deal one of the killer blows to put their foes down.

He couldn’t be any happier for the entire team, most especially for Johnedel Cardel, to whom he dedicated the victory. The cager turned mentor is the first head coach to steer the franchise to its first quarterfinal trip.

“Sobrang happy ako para sa sarili ko at tsaka sa team. Lalong-lalo na kay Coach John. Alam naman natin ‘yung mga hate comments na nakukuha niya palagi, na hindi naman niya kasalanan. Para sa kanya talaga ‘to,” he said.

“Personally, gusto ko manalo para kay Coach John.”

Tiongson is indeed proud to be part of this special batch that sealed a rare quarters appearance for Terrafirma. Still, the crew knows that the job isn’t done yet, as they’re set to face the twice-to-beat San Miguel in the next round.

“‘Yun nga ‘yung sabi ko sa kanila eh, let’s not be overconfident,” he said.

“The fact that we made the playoffs doesn’t mean the job is done. There’s still a lot of games to be played. Malay natin, bilog naman ‘yung bola eh.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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