Road Warriors seal clash with Hotshots
NLEX took on a NorthPort side that was without its top two guns, and coach Yeng Guiao took the chance to iron out some kinks in the system that will definitely help the Road Warriors come the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.
The Road Warriors ran away with 109-95 decision over the Batang Pier that, more than closing out the elimination round with a record above .500 and seal No. 6 seeding in the playoffs, NLEX was also able to smoothen some rough patches in its game at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We made sure that we had intensity and aggressiveness on defense,” Guiao said. “We have a tendency to relax whenever we have big leads—a problem in our past games.”
Finishing as the sixth seed assures NLEX of playing on a level field in the quarterfinals, against the No. 3 seed, Magnolia, in a best-of-three series. The Hotshots carved out a low-scoring 75-66 win over Blackwater in the nightcap, finishing with an 8-3 slate.
“This assures us that we don’t play with the twice-to-win disadvantage,” Guiao said.
Raul Soyud had 19 points and six rebounds. Calvin Oftana chipped in with 18 and eight, while three other Road Warriors tossed in at least 15 each to help plug the absences of Kevin Alas and JR Quinahan who were being rested for the playoffs, and Kris Rosales, who was on his last day under health and safety protocols.
JM Calma had 21 points, Kevin Ferrer 16 and Roi Sumang 12 for NorthPort, which played without Robert Bolick and Jamie Malonzo.
“It was also big that [NorthPort] was without [Robert] Bolick and [Jamie] Malonzo,” Guiao said of the Batang Pier, which they sent home with a 3-8 record. “We know that they are the part of that team’s core. We actually prepared thinking they’re going to play.”
“It was just our desire. We really didn’t want to have a twice-to-beat disadvantage, so we really toiled [in this game],” Guaio said.
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