Magnolia and Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) will clash in Game 1 of the other best-of-seven semifinals pairing in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game time begins at 6:30 p.m.
The No. 2 Hotshots, armed with a twice-to-beat, eliminated GlobalPort 86-79 in the quarterfinals last Tuesday.
“NLEX is the hottest team right now,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, noting the contribution of rookie Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas to NLEX’s output this conference. “I think they won six out of their seven games and they are playing great right now.”
Ravena is averaging 18 points, 7.5 assists and 1.5 steals while Alas had 17.5 points in the best-of-three quarterfinals, where NLEX swept Alaska in two games.
“We need to tighten up our defense not only on Ravena and Alas but on all of their players because they stepped up big in the quarterfinals,” added Victolero, who will lean on Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Ian Sangalang and Jean Marc Pingris in the series.
“But we are ready for the semifinals and we are also motivated in this conference. I think this will be a dogfight. We just need to be mentally tough and physically ready for this battle.”
Ravena, last year’s second overall rookie pick, said the Road Warriors are prepared to unleash their best in the semifinals.
“We really worked hard as a team to put us in this position,” said Ravena. “As what we’ve been talking about at the start of the season, we have the potential of making it. We just have to trust one another and the system. We know Magnolia is a very strong team and a defense oriented team.”
This is the first time coach Yeng Guiao towed NLEX to the semifinals since becoming the team’s coach in 2016 after leaving Rain or Shine.