GlobalPort and NLEX share a common goal, which may be modest compared to what some other teams are shooting for, but tantalizing just the same.
The Batang Pier and Road Warriors also know they must use each other as a stepping stone Wednesday to draw closer to their target in the 2016 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The winner of the match takes over solo fourth and gain the momentum needed to enhance its chances of copping a spot among the top six teams and the perks that come with such a finish following the 11-game eliminations.
Under the tournament format, the top two eliminations topnotchers automatically make it to the semifinals while the third- to sixth-ranked teams need only to win once over their opponents seeded seventh to 10th to advance to the second stage of the quarterfinals, a knockout affair.
Following a 120-105 win over Blackwater last Sunday, it seems GlobalPort has the edge over an NLEX crew hoping it has fully regained its bearings after absorbing an 81-89 loss to Alaska last Friday.
For sure, the Road Warriors need this one as they still have a tough road ahead in defending champion San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Rain or Shine.
In contrast, GlobalPort seems to have a relatively lighter sked in its remaining assignments that include Meralco and Mahindra, which are in the bottom half of the standings, before winding up the elims against TNT.
Already, coach Boyet Fernandez expects his team to be in for a long night Wednesday.
“I do consider GlobalPort as one of the darkhorses in this conference and knowing they are coming off an impressive win versus Blackwater and having Romeo and Pringle, who are currently the best backcourt tandem, we will have our hands full tomorrow,” said Fernandez on the eve of the match.
Indeed, Romeo and Pringle are usually good for 38 points, a little over 12 rebounds and 11 assists, plus a lot of spectacular plays between them. But they are not the only ones Fernandez and his charges have to worry about.
“We have to be solid on our defense and try to limit not only Romeo and Pringle but also Washington, Yeo, Kramer, Mamaril and Jensen,” said Fernandez.
NLEX’s main threats on the other end of the court are double-double machines Sean Anthony and Asi Taulava, but Simon Enciso, Jonas Villanueva, Glenn Khobuntin and Enrico Villanueva must do their part.
“We need to execute on our offense if we want to be (at least) in step with GlobalPort and give ourselves a chance to win,” said Fernandez. (NC)