Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) coach Yeng Guiao expects an intense and physical Game 2 against Magnolia in their best-of-seven semifinals series today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
NLEX barely escaped the Hotshots in Game 1, 88-87, through the combined efforts of Alex Mallari, Cyrus Baguio and Kiefer Ravena. The Road Warriors’ smothering defense limited Paul Lee to a measly eight-point output.
“I know Paul (Lee) will get back in the second game so we have to be ready. But even if you control Paul, there are other guards who will step up,” said Guiao, referring to veteran Peter June Simon, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton.
Simon finished with 20 points while big man Ian Sangalang had 21 points plus nine rebounds in their Game 1 loss.
“Low scoring game will favor Magnolia. It’s just we’re able to keep up with their defense. They played good defense on us and we also played good defense on them. Naturally it would be a low scoring game. We need to keep the score high throughout the series to get a good chance of winning the game,” said Guiao.
The veteran coach added that experience would be Magnolia’s greatest asset in the series. The best thing his wards could do, according to Guiao is to enjoy and flow with the situation.
“I think when it comes to playoff experience, they have the edge because they are in the playoffs four times while us, it is only first time. But the pressure is on them. For our part, we are just enjoying this situation and we’ll take it as far as we can take it.”
Baguio took charge in Game 1 with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field while the rookie Ravena notched 11 of his 16 points in the payoff period. Mallari added 14 points including the crucial three-pointer late in the game.
Magnolia, meanwhile, is hampered by injury as it plunges into Game 2 action.
Veteran forward Jean Marc Pingris, who injured his left knee in the fourth quarter of Game 1,will miss today’s Game 2.