EXCITING as the prospects of a rematch between Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards and Uling Roasters-Butuan City in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup may be, Juan Gomez de Liano is hoping to have a cleaner duel against their instant rival.
"We just want a good game, like a fair one. We don't have to be so rough," the University of the Philippines standout said on Tuesday.
Bruising was the affair between the two sides on Monday as both Nueva Ecija and Butuan pulled no punches even if it was just the preseason tourney.
A total of 26 fouls, 17 the way of Butuan, were called in the game which ended in Gab Banal punctuating the 21-10 victory with a pair of free throws.
Just imagine what will they do if they face off in the tournament proper?
Yet Gomez de Liano begged to disagree, saying that there's a fine line between physicality and malicious intent to hurt.
"A lot of people were saying it was like an MMA fight. Let's just play basketball how it's supposed to be played," he said.
"From my side, I was just trying to be aggressive. I was just trying to make plays for my teammates and myself. We just wanted to win."
There's a high chance of that happening again in the first leg on Wednesday, with Nueva Ecija placed in Pool D and Butuan in Pool B.
Yet for Banal, all of those are irrelevant. At the end of the day, it's all about winning the game.
"I guess we just wanted to check what 3x3 physicality is, especially our team is new to this league and they're veterans," he said.
"We just tested the waters. It's all part of the game. At the end of the day, it's scoring the most points in 10 minutes and that's really our goal -- to win the game. Everything else is just part of it."
Pundits may already be chalking the next time the two sides clash, but Banal said that Nueva Ecija won't treat Butuan any different from its other opponents.
"We'll treat every opponent the same," he said.