FOUR-time defending champion NLEX is determined to clinch the top spot at the end of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup eliminations after a shaky start to its campaign.
The Road Warriors are back in first place with a 7-2 (win-loss) record, going on a seven-game winning run after a horror start that saw the five-time D-League champions drop their first two games.
Assistant coach Adonis Tierra said the team is bent on proving to management that it can still be a force to be reckoned with even though it lost two towering big men in Ian Sangalang and Greg Slaughter during the offseason.
“Siyempre, dahil 0-2 ‘yung start namin, medyo nahihiya rin kami sa management,” said Tierra. “Even without Ian and Greg, gusto namin ipakita sa management na kahit wala kaming legitimate na five (center), kaya naming makuha ‘yung one or two spot.”
The Road Warriors surged on top of the standings after a 96-64 trouncing of Informatics on Thursday. Their ascent to the top was aided by Blackwater Sports’ 89-96 loss to Boracay Rum.
“Para naman masuklian namin ‘yung management kasi defending champion kami. Kailangan namin i-grab ‘yung number five (straight championship),” said Tierra, who has been calling the shots for the Road Warriors at the moment as head coach Boyet Fernandez is with the San Beda team for its annual training in the US.
Even with two games remaining in their elimination-round campaign, Tierra said the team won’t take games against EA Regen Medical Group and Jumbo Plastic lightly.
Fernandez is expected to return for the Road Warriors in time for Tuesday’s match-up against the Regens, who have Sangalang in their roster.
“Kailangan namin manalo kasi EA at Jumbo mahirap din kalaban ‘yun dahil nagkaroon sila ng winning streak,” said Tierra.