Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are both keen to grab a quarterfinals slot as they meet their respective foes today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Road Warriors, coming from a 96-89 win over Alaska last week, will face the streaking Blackwater at 4:30 p.m., while the Gin Kings shoot for their sixth victory when they take on Meralco at 7 p.m.
NLEX and Ginebra, both carrying 5-4 win-loss records are tied on the fifth to sixth places.
“Our main objective is not to go down to the seventh and eighth (quarterfinals) spots because we are going to face the team with a twice-to-beat advantage,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
Guiao knew that scoring a sixth victory will assure them of entry into the quarterfinals and another win will put them to best-of-three spots.
“It is going to be an important game because at sixth win, you’re going to be in the quarterfinals and we’re trying to get there as early as we can by winning tomorrow. But their (Blackwater) confidence level is high and they are difficult to play against as of this moment because of their wins. This will be a grinding game.”
Guiao is pertaining to Blackwater’s back-to-back victories against reigning champion San Miguel Beer (106-96) and Kia (95-76) that boosted the Elite’s confidence.
Ginebra, just like NLEX, is also eyeing the No. 3 to No. 6 quarterfinals spots.
The Gin Kings are expecting a tough match, as the Bolts are keen to avenge their loss to Ginebra in the last Governor’s Cup best-of-seven finals.
“No doubt, it is been a struggle for both teams since meeting in the finals, but we are both playing better of late,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “They will look to put five shooters on the floor so our bigs will have to extend out away from the basket. We’ll have to find ways to cover all of them.”
With a 3-6 win-loss record after a slim 92-90 win over Phoenix, Meralco must win their last two remaining games in the elimination to keep their quarterfinals hope alive.