RED-hot NLEX tries to extend its franchise-best win streak to six as it battles a Kia side that is coming off a 15-day break in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors scored their fifth straight win on Sunday at the expense of GlobalPort Batang Pier, while the Carnival are also coming off a win but that was more than two weeks ago against Alaska.
NLEX (5-4) and Kia (4-5) clash at 4:15 p.m.
Though they are on a red-hot streak, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez noted that Kia is a tough team and a confident bunch as it has earned the reputation of being giant killers with victories over powerhouse squads San Miguel Beer, Purefoods Star, Talk ’N Text and Alaska.
“Sa sitwasyon ng KIA, they won three of their last four games, plus tinalo nila yung ilang teams na tumalo din naman sa amin, so iba rin yung confidence nila ngayon,” said Fernandez.
His biggest concern is what to do on the defensive end against KIA’s 7-foot-3 import Peter John Ramos.
The Puerto Rican import is the most dominant player in the tournament with averages of 34.3 points and 21.0 rebounds per contest.
“Ang concern talaga namin is yung post attack nila but we hope we can contain him because ang problema is if we double Ramos, nandun yung mga shooters nila sa labas naghihintay,” he added.
NLEX’s veteran slotman Asi Taulava will have the unenviable task of defending KIA’s Puerto Rican behemoth, and the Road Warriors hope the Fil-Tongan has recovered well after being admitted to a hospital due to chronic migraine and a persistent fever.
KIA lead assistant Chito Victolero, meanwhile, is not concerned with rust after the two-week layoff, which they used to fine-tune their plays.
“Nakapag-pahinga din kami,” said Victolero, who regularly gets instruction from KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao via overseas call.
“Positive naman and I think they know kung ano ang at stake. I think yung fire at yung kanilang intensity nandun din,” he added.
The Carnival’s surprise showing this conference also has a lot to do with the strong local support led by veteran guard Leo Avenido, JR Cawaling, reil Cervantes and young guard JR Burnsuceso.
KIA is averaging eight three-point conversions this conference, while shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc.