Having shown some offensive efficiency right on its initial outing in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup, NLEX has definitely made itself a target this early.
No less than Meralco coach Norman Black took notice of that after the Road Warriors demolished a strong team in Phoenix last Saturday.
“Considering the offensive efficiency NLEX displayed in their first game, we will have to be on our game defensively to get a win,” said Black.
The Bolts collide with the Road Warriors at 4:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a game between unpredictable teams which are both gunning for second straight win.
The game is expected to be a veritable showdown between two prolific imports in Olu Ashaolu and Allen Durham who both shone on both ends to lead their respective teams to rousing wins in the season-ending conference.
Ashaolu cut loose with 29 points, hauled down 11 rebounds and issued six assists as the Road Warriors held off the Fuel Masters, 123-116, while Durham tallied 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a near triple-double performance for the Bolts’ 98-92 upending of Magnolia, also last Saturday.
Ashaolu got big help from Kiefer Ravena who also shone right on his first outing since he was given go-signal after serving FIBA-imposed 18-month suspension.
Ravena, who played first for Gilas in the World Cup before making his return to the PBA, scored 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals in an admirable performance which earned him kind words from coach Yeng Guiao.
"Kiefer is a little bit too excited," said Guiao. "He really wanted to give a good showing and be a leader of this team and sometimes he needs to control that.”
Both Kiefer and Ashaolu are causing some concerns for Black.
“Slowing down Kiefer and their import (Ashaolu) will be a priority, along with defending their 3pt shots,” said Black.
The Bolts though are definitely having high morale going into the game, thanks to that win over the Hotshots.
"It's a good start to the conference for us; a very, very satisfying win because we were up against the defending champions," said Black.
"We knew they are a very good defensive team and we have to play good defense to beat them. Our defense clicked in the fourth quarter," added Black.
Also setting out and looking for second straight win is NorthPort which takes on Magnolia in the main tussle at 7 p.m.
The Batang Pier, with import Mychal Ammons tallying 25 points, 19 rebounds and four assists, turned back Rain or Shine, 99-94, at the start of the tournament last Friday.