NLEX would rather make it a marathon than run a sprint as it takes on Magnolia in Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Coming off a 91-79 win on Thursday night to tie the series at two games apiece, the Road Warriors are approaching the rest of the best-of-seven affair slowly but surely for them to wear out the Hotshots.
“Ang objective naman namin dito is just stretch this series for as long as we can,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “Pahabain lang namin nang pahabain. Maybe kung dumating ng Game 7 ‘to, baka makatsamba kami dun, maungusan namin sila.”
The Road Warriors try to retake the lead in the series and move on the verge of a breakthrough finals appearance with a win in Game Five that tips off at 6:30 p.m.
Guiao insisted the second-seeded, yet undermanned Hotshots remain the favorites, having reached the semifinals for the fourth straight conference, unlike the Road Warriors who are making their Final Four debut in franchise history.
“I guess even with Pingris not playing, underdogs pa rin naman kami,” Guiao said. “The experience that you gain playing semifinals for as many times as they’ve had is really valuable. Napaka-importante ng experience na yun na wala kami as a team.”
“So just to tie the series at 2-2, to us, that's really a moral victory,” he added. “Makatabla lang kami sa 2-2, ibig sabihin may sixth game pa ’to. Makarating ng Game Six, Game Seven, kahit ano man ang resulta masaya na kami.”
But Guiao feels the longer they face the Hotshots, the easier they figure out how to beat their fancied opponents.
“Merong ganung feeling, syempre nasasabayan mo, tapos yun nga, nangyayari you try to make adjustments, you try to put together a game plan,” Guiao said. “And example (in Game Four), parang, ‘uy tumama yung game plan ah, uy nag-succeed ah. So ibig sabihin nabubuhayan ka ng loob, lumalaki yung kumpyansa, kaya nag-iisip ka na na baka may tsamba.”
“Nag-iisip ka na baka pag napahaba pa namin ‘to, kahit na magsalit-salitan lang, pagdating ng Game Seven, toss coin na lang yun eh, pagdating sa ganun. We’ll take that chance, so okay na kami sa ganun,” he added.