NLEX hopes to give Alaska another good fight as the Road Warriors seek to overhaul a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the Aces on Thursday at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs at the Astrodome.
The Road Warriors lost to the third-seeded Aces in their Nov. 28 match, 90-84, after failing to sustain a lead entering the homestretch.
And that’s what makes coach Boyet Fernandez positive about the chances of his 10th ranked team going into the 4:15 p.m. game.
“We played really well against them in the eliminations but in the end, we lost. ‘Yun ‘yung positive na tinitignan namin na we can play toe-to-toe with them and it’s just a matter of finishing it,” Fernandez said on Wednesday.
But Fernandez himself admitted the playoffs is a whole different story, especially with the Road Warriors, seeing action in the playoffs right on their maiden conference, up against an Alaska side teetering with experience.
A win by the Aces would send them outright to the semifinals.
“Tough task sa amin dahil we are facing a team that even though it lost two straight (games) is one of the top teams in the PBA. Kung iisipin mo, mahirap ‘yung mindset namin kaya we just have to focus on one game first,” Fernandez said.
“Laban pa rin kami,” he added.
NLEX will heavily rely on veteran big man Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva, Aldrech Ramos, and Macmac Cardona in hoping to force a deciding match.
“There is a semblance especially with Asi. Jonas, Aldrech, and Macmac doing well. Malaki naman ang chance namin,” Fernandez said.
After a good start to the All-Filipino conference, Alaska tumbled going home after losing their last two games of the eliminations that made the Aces missed an outright berth in the semifinals.
Fernandez said that could serve as a big motivation for their opponents.
“Knowing coach Alex (Compton), I’m sure Alaska will be prepared for us,” said the NLEX mentor.