NLEX tries to stay No. 1 vs Cagayan Valley
MANILA, Philippines — Dominant despite a depleted lineup, NLEX hopes to stay on top when it battles Cagayan Valley in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
The Road Warriors, still without head coach Boyet Fernandez and five players from San Beda, try to stretch their unbeaten run to five versus the Rising Suns (2-2) at 2 p.m.
“They (players) are aware that any team is capable of winning at any given time, so we can’t be complacent,” said NLEX deputy Mon Celis.
In other games, Jumbo Plastic goes for a share of second versus Hog’s Breath Cafe at 12 noon, while defending champion Blackwater Sports vies for back-to-back wins against Derulo Accelero at 10 a.m.
Fernandez, who also mentors San Beda in the NCAA, left for Lithuania for training along with players Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, Art dela Cruz, Kyle Pascual and Ryusei Koga.
Despite the manpower shortage, the five-time champion Road Warriors still rolled to a 88-67 win over Cafe France last Tuesday behind Ronald Pascual, last conference’s MVP Garvo Lanete and the debuting Ray Parks.
“Our key players are stepping up and Parks coming in at this point is a big lift for the team,” Celis said of the two-time UAAP MVP, who finally suited up for the Road Warriors after missing the first three games due to school commitments.
The Rising Suns, locked in a four-way tie with Big Chill, Cafe France and Boracay Rum, hope to make the most out of the absence of the NLEX five.
“It’s going to be tough but I think we can match up with them with Ola out,” said Cagayan deputy Ogie Gumatay.
The Rising Suns, led by Lord Casajeros, Jason Melano and Kenneth Ighalo, target a third straight triumph after a 0-2 start.