KIA looks to bounce back from a huge setback, while NLEX goes for a second straight win as the Carnival and Road Warriors clash on Monday in the PBA Governors Cup at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Injured playing coach Manny Pacquiao will be back to call the shots as the Carnival try to get back on track after a loss to Barangay Ginebra last week.
Pacquiao will be going to Antipolo straight from General Santos City, where he was given a hero’s welcome after the recent 12-round match against undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
KIA assistant coach Chito Victolero said he has been in constant communication with Pacquiao as they map out their game plan against the Road Warriors (1-2) in the 4:15 p.m. match.
"Nagu-usap kami ni boss Manny. Maganda ang tinatakbo nila (Road Warriors) ngayon saka naka-adjust na ang NLEX sa import nila," said Victolero
Victolero admitted the Carnival are still adjusting to Hamady N'Diyae, who was tapped just a week before the start of the tournament. The Senegalese big man took the place of PJ Ramos, who averaged more than 35 points and 21 rebounds during the Commissioner's Cup but could not return for the Governors cup due to his commitment with Guiyama in the Puerto Rican league.
"Napakalaki ng adjustment namin kasi three weeks na nag-prepare kami na iniisip namin nandun si PJ, and then one week before the start of the Governors Cup, we had to prepare with Hamady," explained Victolero, whose team opened the conference by shocking San Miguel Beer, 83-78.
"Pero malaki din in-improve sa locals namin. Kasi, natulungan naman ni PJ na mapataas ang confidence nila to shoot from the outside," he added, referring to LA Revilla, Karl Dehesa and backup playmaker Hyram Bagatsing.
The Carnival’s veterans Leo Avenido and JR Cawaling are expected to sit out with hamstring injuries.
Meantime, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez hopes to see his team display the same tenacity it showed during the Road Warriors' win over the Meralco Bolts last week.
"I appreciate them (Road Warriors) for staying within the system despite the five straight games we lost,” Fernandez said, referring to the team's losing run including the last matches in the Commissioner's Cup eliminations and the quarterfinals where they were swept, 2-0 by the Bolts.
NLEX's Syrian import Michel Madanly is still a game-time decision because of neck spasm, though American import Kwame Alexander and veteran slotman Asi Taulava are expected to provide the strong inside presence.