NLEX and Jumbo Plastic Linoleum clash in a marquee match-up on Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors battle the Giants at 12 noon in the first game of a tripleheader.
NLEX is in second place in the team standings based on winning percentage with a 5-1 win-loss record, although not far behind is Jumbo Plastic, which owns an 8-2 slate including a three-game winning streak.
But NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez expressed concern about the team’s performance on Monday when it beat Wangs Basketball.
Although the Road Warriors won handily, 96-80, NLEX found itself trailing by 10 at one point in the first half in its first game back after a one-month lay-off as the core of the team led by Kevin Alas made up the Sinag Pilipinas squad that won the gold in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
“If we play the way we did (against Wangs), we don’t stand a chance against Jumbo,” Fernandez said. “We better regain our bearings sooner than later.”
Fernandez sees a tough match-up in the paint as NLEX goes up against Jumbo Plastic’s ‘Twin Tower’ combination of Jason Ballesteros and Jan Colina.
NLEX, however, is set to get a boost with Ola Adeogun returning to action after serving his one-game suspension Tuesday for an altercation between Dexter Maiquez early last month.
Jumbo Plastic assistant coach Joel Dualan is confident about the Giants’ chances against their powerhouse opponent as they try to limit the offensive firepower of the Road Warriors.
“NLEX is a powerhouse team but I think our personnel have the ability to challenge them,” said Dualan, whose team allows its opponents just 67 points per game – a league-best.
But Dualan hopes not to play rusty as the Giants are seeing action for the first time after the Christmas break.
Meanwhile, National University-Banco De Oro goes for a second straight win against struggling Hog’s Breath Café at 2 p.m., while Blackwater Sports faces another slumping squad in Air21-Arellano at 4 p.m.
The Bulldogs finally won their first game after six tries when they beat Air21-Arellano, 97-68, on Monday, while the Razorbacks absorbed their third straight defeat including a 67-91 loss to Boracay Rum on Monday.
Blackwater Sports is hoping to arrest a two-game skid. Air21-Arellano, on the other hand, is on a seven-game slump.
Team standings: Big Chill 10-1, NLEX 5-1, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum 8-2, Hog’s Breath 7-3, Cagayan Valley 7-3, Café France 7-3, Blackwater Sports 4-3, Boracay Rum 5-5, Cebuana Lhuillier 3-4, Wangs Basketball 4-7, Zambales M-Builders 2-9, NU-BDO 1-6, Air21-Arellano 1-9, Derulo Accelero 1-9.