by Jonas Terrado
Game Friday (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Alaska
NLEX and Alaska expect a more fierce battle when they dispute the eighth and final quarterfinals berth tonight in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The one-game playoff is set at 7 p.m. with the winner earning the right to face top seed Phoenix Pulse in the quarterfinals.
Phoenix holds a twice-to-beat advantage after posting a 9-2 record in the eliminations.
Both teams arranged a playoff after NLEX fell to Magnolia and NorthPort defeated Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the conclusion of the eliminations last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors and the Aces finished with identical 4-7 records along with the Columbian Dyip, who were eliminated due to an inferior quotient.
NLEX holds the psychological edge over Alaska after rolling to a 91-70 rout last March 13, but coach Yeng Guiao is bracing for a down-the-wire encounter this time.
Alaska coach Alex Compton flashed a wide grin as he witnessed his team stay alive following NLEX’s loss against Magnolia.
But Compton understands that his team will have to show that they are worthy of having this last chance at making the quarters.
Center Poy Erram will lead NLEX’s charge but the roles of JR Quinahan, Bong Galanza, Philip Paniamogan, Kenneth Ighalo will be crucial in their bid.
Alaska counters with Chris Banchero, Jeron Teng, Carl Bryan Cruz, Simon Enciso, Jake Pascual, Jvee Casio and Kevin Racal.
Racal and Casio didn’t see action in their previous meeting with the Road Warriors because of injuries.