NLEX tries to avoid coming up empty handed in its grueling opening schedule as it takes on Meralco on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors have lost their first two games on the road at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, the latest a 98-97 heartbreaker against Rain or Shine last Wednesday.
But the Road Warriors are hoping the third time’s the charm as they’re set to play their third game in a week, returning to familiar territory at the Big Dome against their sister squad in the 7 p.m. game.
Kiefer Ravena is eager to finish their opening week schedule on a high note to get their playoff bid going.
“One-two is way better than zero-three,” the Road Warriors rookie sensation said. “I think zero-three is pretty much a deep hole to climb out of.”
Ravena regained his touch after a sub-par offensive showing, pouring 23 points, highlighted by four triples, eight boards, eight assists, two blocks, and one steal in 32 minutes against the Elasto Painters.
But the 24-year-old playmaker lamented his lapse down the stretch when he took a hurried three-point shot that missed with 23 seconds left in the game clock, setting the stage for an ROS possession that saw Reggie Johnson grab an offensive rebound and draw a foul for the go-ahead charity.
“Well, tough game,” Ravena admitted. “Probably made a bad decision in the end, taking the early shot, gave Rain or Shine multiple possessions in the endgame.”
The Phenom was also scoreless in the payoff period after dropping 11 in the third canto.
“But you know, I guess we played relatively better than we played the last game and some lessons learned,” he continued as the Road Warriors opened their campaign with an embarrassing 123-103 loss to Columbian Dyip. “At least we're improving.”
Ravena is hoping that new import Arnett Moultrie will also improve and adapt to the local brand of basketball better after putting up 24 points, 17 boards, three assists, and one block in over 35 minutes in his debut.
“Okay naman yung import namin, probably he just has to adjust to the calls, adjust to the style of play here,” Ravena said. “Baka kasi nagugulat din siya may mga big boys din dito, ‘di ba? But you know we're positive, we're happy of his performance.”
“And hopefully, 0-2, there's nowhere to go but up for the team,” he added.
The Road Warriors, though, are facing a Bolts team that's also keen on bouncing back from an 86-85 decision against GlobalPort last Friday that negated their 116-103 win over Columbian Dyip two days back.