HOG’S Breath Café coach Caloy Garcia doesn’t see any advantage for his team against powerhouse NLEX as the two teams collide in their PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinal tiff starting this Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Razorbacks get reacquainted with the Road Warriors in the best-of-three semifinals for the first time since pulling off an 83-78 shocker last November 28 in their elimination round encounter.
Yet despite the shocking win, Garcia is resigned to the fact the Razorbacks will have to play perfect basketball in order to beat the Road Warriors twice.
“The only way to beat them is probably have a good day on offense and defense,” Garcia said. “If you come out soft against them, they are going to kill you. If you come out strong, you have to wait until the last two minutes.”
Led by Garvo Lanete along with other star players from collegiate and amateur ranks, NLEX clinched the No. 1 seeding at the end of the eliminations with an 11-2 (win-loss) slate.
Hog’s Breath, on the other hand, won seven straight games to start off the conference including its upset of NLEX. The Razorbacks, however, struggled to keep their form before winning crucial games down the stretch to finish as the fourth-seeded team with 10-3 record.
The Razorbacks went on to beat Cagayan Valley in the quarterfinals to set up the rematch with NLEX as Francis Allera and Kevin Racal led the way for the team.
Even as the Road Warriors will be coming to the semifinals fresh off a long break, Garcia still sees their opponents as the heavy favorite come the best-of-three series.
“It’s going to be a difficult match-up, talent-wise, height-wise, they have all the advantages,” Garcia said.
But the Razorbacks coach still sees this conference as an accomplishment for the franchise.
In its debut tournament in the Foundation Cup, Hog’s Breath only won a game before retooling its roster this conference that included the hiring of Garcia as head coach.
That’s why Garcia said all he wants from his boys is to play hard and show a never-give-up attitude against NLEX.
“It doesn’t matter. As long as we come out and play hard, win or lose, happy na ako sa mga players. Coming into this conference, nobody gave us a chance,” said Garcia.