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NLEX, Elite try to close out foes

Games Today (Ynares Arena, Pasig City)
12 p.m. – Blackwater vs Jumbo Plastic
2 p.m. – NLEX vs Cebuana Lhuillier

Manila, Philippines – Five time champion NLEX and defending champion Blackwater look to forge another finals duel in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup as both teams will try to finish their respective opponents in the second game of three game semifinals affair today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Vengeance will be on the minds of the Road Warriors as the Elite came away with a surprising sweep in the finals last year, denying the Road Warriors their supposed fifth title in that conference.

But for that to be possible, they have to clear out a determined Cebuana Lhuillier Gems squad which almost scored an upset in the first game by roughing up the Road Warriors before coming short with a 70-60 decision.

That was something that NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez lambasted, citing that the play of the Gems were borderline dirty.

“Hopefully the commissioner of the PBA will look at the tapes, it’s not really basketball right now but we’ll take this win. Sometimes there are borderlines between being physical and being rough and injuring somebody,” he said.

However, Fernandez reiterated that his boys, particularly his main stars in Kevin Alas, Ola Adeogun and Garvo Lanete, would have to get used to the rough play of Cebuana Lhuillier if they want to move on to the finals.

“We just have to get used to the physicality and adjust our game. We have to keep our focus and not let the non-calls frustrate us,” he added.

But the ire on officiating goes both ways as Cebuana coach Boycie Zamar also took time to question the calls in the first game after being on the short end of a 41-19 free throw disparity.

Zamar said that he’s not dwelling on the calls of the officials and that his club is focusing on keeping their mental toughness while hoping to force a key knockout game come Thursday.

Bannered by Bambam Gamalinda, Alvin Padilla and Gab Banal, the Gems hope to just do that.

“Maybe the refs will have to answer that (the free throw disparity) but we have to play above the officiating. Di ako maghahanap ng dahilan,” Zamar said.

“One thing na meron yung NLEX mental toughness, after nito I want my team to be mentally tough. Di naman tayo naghahanap ng excuse. Importante dito they have to be mentally tough,” he added.