GREG Slaughter makes his much-anticipated debut against one of the tournament’s top big men in Raymond Almazan as NLEX takes on Cagayan Valley on Tuesday in the PBA D-League at the JCSGO gym in Quezon City.
The Fil-American Ateneo center was cleared to play in PBA’s developmental league only recently and now he is set to suit up and help the Road Warriors keep their slate unblemished when they clash with the Rising Suns at 2 p.m.
While Slaughter was still waiting for the green light from the PBA, Almazan emerged as the league's dominant big man and has so far been the conference’s top rebounder (13 per game) and shot blocker (2.75 per game).
That will be put to a test on Tuesday with the Rising Suns hoping to break the Road Warriors’ 23-game winning streak with Slaughter now in the lineup.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez recognizes the huge improvements made by Cagayan Valley, which after failing to win a single game last conference is now tied for second place with Big Chill with a 4-1 win-loss slate.
“We badly need Greg’s presence because Cagayan is the league’s top rebounding team,” said Fernandez. “They’re playing superb basketball that’s why they’re up in the standings.”
Almazan isn’t the only player that is making an impact for the Rising Suns this conference.
Ping Exciminiano has also emerged as one of the key players for Cagayan Valley, recently scoring 24 points in leading the squad to an 86-82 win over Cebuana Lhuillier.
Fernandez is once again calling on NLEX’s defense to show the way after a lopsided 91-67 win over Big Chill last November 29.
“The previous five games our defense was suspect. But the players showed they can play ‘D’ if the situation calls for it. Cagayan is a championship-caliber team so we need to step up again if we want to win,” Fernandez said.
Cagayan Valley coach Alvin Pua said that the true test of their campaign will definitely be against NLEX.
“Mataas ang kumpiyansa ng mga players. Pero they need to mature. Mahirap kalaban ang NLEX kaya kailangan maging disiplinado,” Pua said.
In the first game at 12 p.m., Blackwater Sports (3-1) aims to extend its winning streak to four games against winless Informatics.
The Elite haven’t lost since dropping their opening match. They are coming off an 88-83 win over Jose Rizal University last November 26.