STALLION tries to keep its title-retention bid alive as it takes on dangerous Pachanga-Diliman on Thursday in the second day of the United League Cup quarterfinals at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Both teams, which were supposed to meet top seeds Loyola Meralco and Global, instead face each other for a semifinal spot in their 8 p.m. encounter following the league’s decision to revert to its original, admittedly-flawed bracketing system.
The winner faces the survivor of the Union Internacionale Manila-Philippine Air Force clash in the round-of-eight set at 5 p.m.
Stallions coach Ernie Nierras admitted his team, Pachanga, and UIM were the three teams that asked the UFL to change the setup.
“What we were after is not to change the rules and regulations midstream. You can’t do that. That was the principle of the whole thing,” Nierras told Spin.ph on Wednesday. “But unfortunately, some people made it look like we were complaining.”
“They are saying the teams (that asked for change) complained because they don’t want to face other teams. That’s not true. We just wanted rules to be followed,” he added.
Nierras also said they requested the change before the start of the Round of 16 so as not to disrupt the tournament - only for the decision to be made when the first round of the knockout stage was almost through.
“In theory, it doesn’t matter who you play. The best team will always win the championship,” Nierras said. “Gusto kasi nung iba, they wanted Loyola and Global to face each other in the championship. But that’s kind of disrespectful to the other teams.”
The Sparks blanked Global, 2-0, on Tuesday night to arrange a Final Four duel with Green Archers United, which eased past Ceres-La Sale, 2-1 in their own matchup.
Although his team is facing a relatively weaker foe than Global, Nierras is not underestimating Pachanga, the former Division 2 titlist which finished in the top half of the table in its maiden top-flight campaign.
“We are not taking for granted Pachanga,” said Nierras, whose team swept Pachanga in their two-game head-to-head matchup in League play earlier this year.
UIM, bannered by Iranian standouts, should also be wary of all-Filipino Air Force, seeded 13thand this year’s Cinderella team which stunned Kaya, 1-0, in the Round of 16.
“We’re always the underdogs, but we will give them a good fight,” Airmen coach Edzel “Brax” Bracamonte said.