AFTER seeing NLEX's title drive almost sidetracked by a resolute Air21-Jose Rizal University in the semifinals, coach Boyet Fernandez is concerned with the team's lack of energy as it faces another high-intensity squad, Cagayan Valley, in the finals.
The Road Warriors are heavy on talent, but Fernandez believes they lack the effort as evidenced by the tough three-game semifinal series against the Heavy Bombers in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
“We didn’t match the energy of JRU … I’ll probably tell them (Road Warriors) that we need to have energy and stop (Cagayan Valley's) wing guys,” said Fernandez.
The NLEX-Cagayan Valley title match starts on Thursday at the Blue Eagle Gym.
The Road Warriors are going for their fourth straight crown. In the inaugural Foundation Cup of the league in the 2010-2011 season, NLEX swept Cebuana Lhuillier before doing the same against Freego Jeans and Big Chill in the two succeeding conferences.
“Pareho lang silang malalakas. We played against Cebuana, Freego, and Big Chill. Eto namang Cagayan, kumpleto. They have (Ping) Exciminiano, (Eliud) Poligrates, (James) Forrester, and (Raymund) Almazan,” said Fernandez, when asked about his early assessment of Cagayan.
But Fernandez said that what easily stands out is the energy of the Rising Suns, a team that finished in the cellar during their debut conference in the 2011 Foundation Cup before reaching the finals this conference.
“Grabe ang energy nila. We have to match their energy,” Fernandez said.
Cagayan Valley advanced to the finals with an 80-68 victory over Blackwater Sports in Game Three. NLEX, meanwhile, survived JRU with an 87-85 victory in their own do-or-die Game Three duel.