NLEX tries to stop the bleeding and formalize its entry in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup as it takes on Barako Bull in Tuesday’s curtain raiser at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Road Warriors and the Energy are currently tied at ninth and 10th spots in the standings with identical 3-6 records, with each team out to break the impasse when they seek a win in their 4:15 p.m. match
Mentored by comebacking coach Boyet Fernandez, NLEX has lost its last two games with big meltdowns in the final minutes of the fourth period against Rain or Shine (93-95) and Alaska (84-90), respectively.
In both games, the Road Warriors relinquished control of the lead, allowing the Elasto Painters and the Aces to finish strong in the end.
“Kailangan mag-start strong kami,” said NLEX guard Macmac Cardona, who averages 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists this season.
Cardona, the man they called ‘Captain Hook’, said the important thing is to get man-mountain slotman Asi Taulava active at the post, since Barako Bull doesn’t necessarily have the size to match up against the evergreen NLEX big man.
“Alam naman nating lahat na si Asi ang nagdadala ng NLEX, so tingin ko lamang kami dun (painted area),” added the former La Salle gunner.
The Energy remain dangerous though, having won three of their last four outings after opening the season with five straight losses under rookie coach Koy Banal.
Barako Bull is coming off a 97-82 demolition of woeful Blackwater last week in Antipolo City.