Resurgent NLEX five takes on Cafe France

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MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion NLEX shoots for a fourth straight victory when it tangles with Cafe France Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.

Sporting a 6-1 record, the Road Warriors hope to strengthen their bid for an outright semifinal berth in the 2 p.m. encounter with the Bakers, who also won all their previous four games before the Christmas break.

Wangs Basketball, outside playoff position at 10th spot with a 4-7 slate, clashes with National U-Banco de Oro in the 12 noon encounter, before Cebuana Lhuillier squares off with slumping Arellano U-Air21 at 4 p.m.

Only six from the field of 14 teams will advance to the playoffs with the top two teams clinching outright semifinal berths.

The next four teams will advance to the quarterfinals with both the third and fourth-seeded teams earning twice-to-beat advantage against the No. 5 and 6 teams.

The Road Warriors, with Garvo Lanete firing 27 points, are coming off an 89-70 demolition of the Jumbo Plastic Giants last Thursday. Although an automatic semifinal berth is within reach, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez wants his team to focus on the Bakers.

“We’re not thinking about the playoffs yet,” said Fernandez. “We still have a long way to go. Our goal is to win as many game as we could and see what happens.”

The multititled mentor is wary of the threat posed by the Bakers, who are among the league’s top defensive teams.

Cafe France coach Egay Macaraya said his team is in for a tough outing against NLEX.

“I saw them play (against Jumbo Plastic) and I must admit they have the advantage over us all the way,” Macaraya said.

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