NLEX-SCTEX coach Jojo Lastimosa is tempering expectations for his squad set for battle in the Merlion Cup which starts on Wednesday.
After all, the team reinforced by the core of the Cignal Hawkeyes that won a PBA D-League double championship was formed only a couple of weeks before the tournament in Singapore kicks off.
Still, Lastimosa remained optimistic, especially after his wards held their own against the Fiba Asia Champions Cup-bound Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas in a tuneup game.
NLEX-SCTEX showed resistance behind Jason Perkins in the fourth period, pulling to within five before bowing to Chooks, 95-83, at the Meralco Gym last Saturday.
Lastimosa expects his wards to show the same kind of fight in the September 20-24showcase.
"I expect the guys to play hard and enjoy the international competition. It could be the first for some guys," he said.
Perkins, Oping Sumalinog, Harold Arboleda, and import Maurice Shaw lead NLEX-SCTEX in the seven-team tournament.
They will face clubs like Shanghai Sharks, Yulon Luxgen Dinos as well as hosts Singapore Slingers.
"We're never gonna get there (in top form) but hopefully we can improve every game," he said. "I'm hoping yung mga mali naming ginagawa, we'll be able to polish," said Lastimosa.