MANILA, Philippines – With much of the pressure off, Air21-JRU looks to stun defending champion NLEX anew in the deciding game of their best-of-three PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinals series Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Heavy Bombers gave the Road Warriors a rare beating with a 108-85 win last Thursday and head coach Vergel Meneses thinks the victory allowed his team to have that much-needed confidence to do it again.
“I think the pressure is now on them, we have got noting lose,” Meneses declared, making JRU more dangerous. “Nobody had expected us to be in the playoffs but my players have overachieved expectations and look at where we are now, we’re one way away from making the Finals.”
On to NLEX’s side, coach Boyet Fernandez thinks matching JRU’s intensity is a must from the get-go.
“The challenge now for NLEX is how can we bounce back?” Fernandez said. “JRU came out with a lot of energy (in Game 2).We have to match that energy from the start (in Game 3) and definitely, we need to step up on defense if we intend to make the finals.”
Meanwhile, Blackwater Sports and Cagayan Valley dispute the other Finals slot also in a knockout tiff after the Elite rebounded with a 98-82 win in Game 2 last Thursday.
Keeping the Rising Suns from controlling the pace of the game will be key for the Elite as far as head coach Leo Isaac is concerned.
“They key for us is to not allow Cagayan to dictate the tempo. If we could that we’ll have a good chance,” Isaac said.
Blackwater’s defense also held up as it limited Cagayan’s James Forrester, who had 25 points in Game 1, to just seven points.