NLEX eyes PBA D-League title clincher vs Blackwater
MANILA, Philippines — Looking to cap a perfect run with a championship, NLEX hopes to come out solid on both ends again in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals Monday.
The Road Warriors, who are vying for a sixth crown before bidding farewell to the league they’ve dominated, hope to down Blackwater Sports one last time in Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 3:30 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’re just up by one, we still have to finish it,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “We’re hoping we’ll come out ready again.”
The Road Warriors have a shot at replicating their incredible 13-0 title romp in 2012 after a clinical Game 1 performance where they dismantled the Elite, 90-77, last Friday.
Fernandez, however, knows that Game 2 might not be as one-sided even with Ronald Pascual regaining his hot shooting to boost the consistent performances of Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete, Art dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun.
“They (Elite) bogged down on the defensive schemes, but I’m sure come Monday, they’ll be ready for that,” said Fernandez.
And that’s what the Elite intend to do to stay alive in the series before their ballclub jumps to the pros along with the Road Warriors as the PBA’s latest expansion teams.
“We have to give it our all,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac. “But it’s still all about discipline.”
The Elite got off to a fiery start in the opener behind Mark Cruz and Reil Cervantes, but the Road Warriors clamped down on the duo in the second half as vital cogs Jericho Cruz, Kevin Ferrer and Gilbert Bulawan hardly made their presence felt.
Isaac rued the Elite’s individualistic play, but expects his players to correct their Game 1 errors to stay on track in their title defense. Fernandez also expects some adjustments from the Elite, the only squad that has beaten them in the Finals.
“We know it’s going to be tough,” said Fernandez. “They (Elite) have a good coach and good players. We cannot rest on our laurels.”