NLEX, C. Valley eye finals slotsBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
NLEX aims to return to a familiar spot while Cagayan Valley tries to take its remarkable run all the way to the finals as both squads shoot for a series sweep of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinals today.
The Road Warriors, who are gunning for a fourth straight crown, hope for another dominant outing against the Jose Rizal University Bombers in Game 2 of their best-of-three series at 2 p.m. at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Bidding to pull off another surprise, the Rising Suns try to oust the Blackwater Sports Elite in the other semifinal clash at 4 p.m.
“We’re here so we want to make the most out of it,” coach Alvin Pua said of his Rising Suns, who surprisingly reached the Final Four just a conference after a winless run, then upset the Elite, the No. 2 team in the eliminations, last Tuesday.
The Road Warriors overwhelmed the Heavy Bombers, 105-85, in Game 1 also Tuesday after Ian Sangalang towed them to a double-digit lead right in the first quarter.
Nico Salva, RR Garcia and Kevin Alas also helped the Road Warriors stay out of reach even as the Bombers tried to stage a late rally behind John Byron Villarias, who shot six straight triples in one stretch.
“We have to take a look at that, make some adjustment and get ready,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
Pua said his Rising Suns still need to work on their game even with James Forrester (25 points), Raymond Almazan (18 points and 17 rebounds) and Eliud Poligrates (16 points and six assists) coming out with big performances in their 91-76 Game 1 win over the Elite.
“We have to be consistent in our defense,” said Pua. “There are times when we still tend to relax.”
The Elite, who went straight to the semifinals after finishing in the top two in the eliminations, hope to forge a decider with Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, Jeric Fortuna and Allan Mangahas at the helm.
“Anything can happen on Thursday,” said Pua. “I’m sure Blackwater will make adjustments and try to rebound, so we have to stay focused.”