February 10, 2018

Will the Road Warriors have the legs to keep up against Alaska?

BY PULLING off a second straight come-from-behind win NLEX breathed new life into its PBA Philippine Cup campaign.

It's now a matter of the Road Warriors getting their legs back under them quickly when they gun for a third straight victory at the expense of Alaska Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces are looking for a seventh straight win in nine games that would give them at least a share of the lead, depending on the result of the Saturday match pitting fellow 6-2 Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok and Rain or Shine.

NLEX is simply looking to continue its climb up in the standings sparked by its 81-78 stunner over Barangay Ginebra and sustained by an 87-85 cliffhanger over Meralco, the last just last Friday.

Road Warriors' coach Yeng Guiao's main concern is how his charges refresh themselves in so short a time for them to break out of their current tie at fifth and enhance their chances of inclusion among the top eight teams advancing to the next round.

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"Pahirap ng pahirap 'yung laro. We have another game on Sunday," said Guiao after the win against Meralco made possible by a last-second shot from Kiefer Ravena.

"After a hard game like this it's really hard to recover, to prepare, but that's the way it is," added Ravena. "Another hard game against a team that's really playing well in Alaska."

Alaska itself is coming off a hard game, a 105-98 overtime triumph over GlobalPort. But it has had a full week's rest since.

Another thing going for the Aces is their innate ability to come out strong, unlike the Road Warriors who trailed the Kings by as many as 14 points and the Bolts by 18.

"Good thing we recovered, but I don't like winning this way," admitted Guiao. "Too pressure-packed, too tension-filled. It's good for the fans, but it's bad for the coaches."

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Indeed, NLEX must brace itself for the onslaught of an energetic Alaska roster that boasts of Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero and Jayvee Casio.

What should prove crucial for the Road Warriors is how the likes of not only Ravena but JR Quinahan, Larry Fonacier, Alex Mallari and Mike Miranda perform. (NC)