NLEX is in the playoffs as top seed once more, but Boyet Fernandez downplayed rival coach Caloy Garcia’s claim that the Road Warriors have “all the advantages” in the Aspirants Cup semifinals against Hogs Breath Café Razorbacks starting on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
Game One tips off at 2 p.m.
Four-time PBA D-League champion NLEX topped the elimination round with an 11-2 win-loss record to gain outright entry to the semifinals, reason why Garcia said the Razorbacks will need to play “perfect basketball” in order to beat the Road Warriors twice.
“It’s going to be a difficult match-up, talent-wise, height-wise, they have all the advantages,” Garcia said.
But Fernandez countered that it is Hog’s Breath that has the advantage in the semifinals, having a psychological edge after the Razorbacks beat the Road Warriors, 83-78, in their elimination-round match on November 28.
“I do thank coach Caloy for the compliment,” said Fernandez. “But Hog’s is a strong team. Remember, Hog’s is the only team that defeated NLEX and Big Chill in the eliminations and both are the top two teams at the end of the eliminations.”
“Kaya Hog’s has all the advantages in our series,” added Ferandez.
“We just have to match their intensity and aggressiveness. Defense is a major factor in this semis. However makes stops in the end will win.”
Garvo Lanete missed the final two games of the eliminations due to a shoulder injury but Fernandez is hoping the sweet shooting guard would be able to see action.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll be able to play on Tuesday,” Fernandez said.
Game One of the other semifinal between Big Chill and Blackwater Sports will also begin on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Superchargers finished second to gain an automatic semifinal berth, while the Elite have won four straight games despite being the sixth seeds going into the quarterfinals.