NLEX seeks solo lead
Listed as a legitimate title threat for the first time, NLEX shoots for a third straight win and the solo lead in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations when it collides with Phoenix Petroleum Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
And if there’s one team that can give the Road Warriors their first acid test here, it would be the rejuvenated Fuel Masters.
“New faces and coaching staff are changing the culture of this team,” NLEX’ Yeng Guiao said of Phoenix, which is now being handled by Louie Alas—who has given the Fuel Masters the defensive mentality the team sorely lacked in the past.
“That makes them very dangerous,” said Guiao.
Interestingly, this will be the first meeting between head coach Alas and son Kevin, who is an integral part of the rotation of Guiao, who has relied on point guards like rookie Kiefer Ravena.
“It’s just not about Kevin, but their entire backcourt,” the elder Alas said when told that Kevin has been damaging the opposition in the last two NLEX games. “We should be able to limit their fast break points.”
Ravena has stepped up without much effort and has been the yardstick by which all rookies are now being measured, not just for individual stats but at how he made the Road Warriors even better than the Governors’ Cup last season when they started becoming competitive.
Matthew Wright is Phoenix’ Alas’ main offensive weapon, and the swarming defense that was the trademark of Alaska while he was Alex Compton’s assistant is being used by the Fuel Masters to offset their lack of size.
“We are basically a run-and-gun team,” Louie Alas said. “But we need to play a lot of defense, to come up with a lot of schemes.”
Meanwhile, crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra shoots for a second straight win when it clashes with undermanned GlobalPort in the 6:45 p.m. game.
The hulking Gin Kings will be coming off an impressive 89-78 conquest of Magnolia on Christmas Day.