TWO teams heading to the PBA next season fight it out in the D-League finals as Blackwater Sports and NLEX begin the battle for the Foundation Cup title on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Game One of the best-of-three series is set at 1:30 p.m. right before the regular PBA doubleheader at The Big Dome.
Both franchises look to end their D-League stint on an a bright note before their jump to the PBA in the 2014-2015 season.
NLEX will try to reassert its dominance in the developmental league since its inception as the Road Warriors go for their sixth title, while Blackwater Sports will be gunning for their second straight Foundation Cup after sweeping NLEX in 2013.
Blackwater enter the finals on a six-game win-streak, including a sweep of Jumbo Plastic Linoleum in the round of four.
“I’m counting on the confidence of my players going to the next level and their desire to play in the finals,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac.
“Baka makakuha ako ng magandang motivation doon. Makuha ko na ito ’yung panaginip nila na maglaro sa finals. They have to give their all.”
The Road Warriors are undefeated in 11 games, with two big wins against hard-fighting Cebuana Lhuillier in the semifinals.
Although NLEX trounced Blackwater, 102-84, in their first meeting early in the conference on March 25, Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez has played down the lopsided win, saying he has seen a marked improvement in the Elite from the time they last met.
“Blackwater is a very strong team. They are playing as a team. We are just happy that we are here in the finals,” Fernandez said.
“Sabi ko nga, kapag sa finals, 0-0 na ’yun. We have to be ready against Blackwater,” said Fernandez.
Blackwater forwards Gilbert Bulawan and Reil Cervantes were mentioned by Fernandez as threats to NLEX’s title bid, saying the two create match-up problems for the Road Warriors.
“Their big guys are quick. Bulawan and Cervantes have been playing well. Their point guards like (John) Pinto and (Mark) Cruz are doing great. Malakas. We will try to find ways to win this one,” said Fernandez.
Isaac, however, believes NLEX is still favored in the finals but winning over the five-time champion is doable, as they have proven in last year’s title series.
“Puwede naming i-recap ’yung mga scenarios doon. Puwede uli namin panoorin ’yung video just to convince them na they also have their offdays. Hopefully, we can catch them on an offday,” said Isaac.