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D-League: NLEX battles Jumbo

Games on Tomorrow San Juan Arena
12 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs NLEX
2 p.m. – Banco de Oro vs Hog’s Breath Cafe
4 p.m – Arellano U vs Blackwater Sports

NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez expects his Road Warriors to be in game shape when the defending champions face the streaking Jumbo Plastic today in the PBA DLeague Aspirants’ Cup at the San Juan Arena.

It will be the second game in three days for the Warriors, who are coming off a 96-80 romp against Wangs Basketball last Tuesday.

The Road Warriors were visibly out of sync against the Couriers largely due to their month-long lay-off. But Fernandez is hopeful his troops will be able to regain their game shape in time for their scheduled 12 noon duel with the Giants.

In the other games, Banco de Oro, which snapped six-game losing streak with a 97-68 win against Arellano University last Monday, hopes to sustain the momentum when it battles skidding Hog’s Breath Cafe (7-3) at
2 p.m. while Blackwater Sports (4-3) takes on Arellano U at 4 o’clock.

Except for Banco de Oro, the other three teams have losing records. Hog’s Breath Café is on a 3-game skid, Blackwater Sports has lost its last two while Arellano U is on a seven-game slump.

“If we play the way we did today (against Wangs Basketball) we don’t stand a chance against Jumbo. So we better regain our bearings sooner than later,” said Fernandez, adding defense will be the key for both teams.

Jumbo Plastic assistant coach Joel Dualan believes the Giants can match-up well against the star-studded defending champions but said the team’s fitness coming off the holiday break is a concern.

“NLEX is a powerhouse team but I think our personnel have the ability to challenge them. But to that we have to be in top shape. Problem is we haven’t had any activity since our game against Blackwater last Dec. 19 and that’s what worries us,” Dualan said.

“If (Jason) Ballesteros and (Jan) Colina can contribute consistently on offense we have a good chance. “

NLEX leads the league is offense with an averaged 88.3 points per game while Jumbo Plastic is tops in defense with 67 points allowed per game.

The two teams look to stretch their winning streak to bolsters their chances finishing in the Top 2 at the end of the elimination round and clinch an outright semifinal berth. NLEX has won its last two while Jumbo Plastic is seeking fourth straight win.

Dualana said limiting NLEX under 70 points is doable. “That’s our target. But again it depends how healthy and fit our players are coming into the game.”