ABOUT three conferences ago, NLEX was a favorite whipping boy in the PBA.
Now, the team has become a yardstick in the Governors’ Cup.
“Our game versus NLEX will be a big test for us because they (Road Warriors) have been playing well this conference,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
The Bolts stake their unbeaten slate today as they play the Road Warriors in 6:45 p.m. main tussle of an interesting doubleheader in the resumption of the elimination round at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bolts will be going for their fifth straight win that will enable them to keep their hold of the solo lead in the tournament where they were the losing finalists last season.
However, Black knows full well the daunting task facing his Bolts in the game, more so since the Road Warriors are enjoying their finest start since coach Yeng Guiao started handling them during the Philippine Cup.
The Road Warriors had been surprising everyone, including Guiao himself, after they won their first four outings in a hot streak which was halted by Barangay Ginebra last Saturday via a 110-97 win in a road game in Calasiao, Pangasinan.
The loss does not change the fact that NLEX is dangerous, and Black said they have a lot of adjustments to do when they play the Road Warriors whom he described as ‘high scoring, fast-pace’ team.
One thing that’s giving Black some concern in the game is the absence of Cliff Hodge because of sprain ankle he sustained during their last outing against Kia Picanto.
“It doesn’t help that Cliff Hodge will miss the game because of sprain ankle he sustained last game vs Kia,” stressed Black.
The Bolts are on a roll with four straight victories capped by a 112-97 spanking of Kia Picanto last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine, which had won this conference in 2012 under Guiao, tries to avoid being left stranded near the bottom of the standings as it takes on Kia Picanto in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
The Elasto Painters, who will play minus Gabe Norwood who is with Gilas Pilipinas now campaigning in Beirut joust, are looking to rebound from back-to-back losses they suffered at the hands of Meralco (89-73, July 29) and NLEX (122-114, July 26).
The Painters need to play cautiously against a Picanto team that can only be expected to give its all.