A seemingly invincible NLEX squad tries to go for a familiar ending in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup today.
The Roads Warriors, who swept the finals in all their title runs, again hope to dispatch Cagayan Valley quickly and claim a fourth straight championship in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.
But NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez expects a tough fightback from the Rising Suns, the surprise finalist who did come out looking surprised in the series opener.
“I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments so we better be ready,” said Fernandez.
Game time is set at 3 p.m. at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors cruised past the Rising Suns in Game 1, 87-63, last Thursday where Ian Sangalang, Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Borgie Hermida and Garvo Lanete all came out with double figures.
Cagayan coach Alvin Pua, though, thinks his Risings Suns are still capable of regaining the same fiery form that keyed their upset of No. 2 Blackwater Sports in the semifinals.
“We need to be a lot more aggressive and move the ball well to create open shots for our shooters,” said Pua.
Eliud Poligrates led with 15 points in a game where the Rising Suns virtually struggled from the field (22-of-68) the entire time as reliables like Chris Exciminiano and James Forrester finished with only four points apiece.
“We just didn’t make our shots and that’s more or less the story of Game 1,” said Pua, who added that his Rising Suns also played lackluster defense.
In contrast, the Road Warriors had everything going for them from the get-go as starters Sangalang (15 points and eight rebounds), Lanete (10 points) and Hermida (10 points and 11 assists) towed them to a double-digit lead early.
Still, Fernandez tried to be cautious in proclaiming another sweep for the only champion since the league inception two years ago.
“We just won one game,” he said. “This series is not over until it’s over.”