WHILE Jose Rizal University goes for the jugular after delivering a stunning blow, powerhouse NLEX hopes to have recovered from the snag and be able to bounce back as they clash in the deciding match of their semifinal series on Tuesday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the San Juan Arena.
Blackwater Sports and Cagayan Valley also collide in the third match of the other semifinal series, with the second-seed Elite trying to turn back the Rising Suns.
The Bombers and the Road Warriors clash at 4 p.m. after the 2 o’clock match between the Elite and the Rising Suns.
After dropping to as low as ninth place during the elimination round, the overachieving Heavy Bombers found themselves one victory away from the finals when they beat the Road Warriors, 108-94, last week.
Now JRU head coach Vergel Meneses feels that the pressure is on the side of NLEX.
“Nothing to lose, everything to gain kami,” Meneses said. “Overachieving na itong team na ito. Nobody expected us to reach the semis. Basta kami, laro lang nang laro.”
Leading the way for the Heavy Bombers were Byron Villarias, Philip Paniamogan, and Dexter Maiquez, who combined for 64 points in Game Two.
NLEX isn’t actually in unfamiliar territory as the Road Warriors also found themselves one game away from elimination before warding off Big Chill in the 2011-2012 Foundation Cup.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said that for the team to win Game Three, they need to start aggressively.
“JRU came out with a lot of energy in Game Two. We have to match that energy from the start. And definitely, we need to step up on defense if we intend to make the finals,” said Fernandez.
Meanwhile, the Elite have bounced back from the Game One loss and will look to use the momentum to beat Cagayan Valley in the series decider.
The Elite had the second-best record after the elimination round and secured an automatic berth to the semifinals but were stunned in the series opener by the Rising Suns.
“They key for us is to not allow Cagayan to dictate the tempo. If we could that we’ll have a good chance,” Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac said after his team came up with a 98-82 win over the Rising Suns.