This is a battle between teams who haven’t formally entered the playoffs yet, and both will be giving their best for that all-important playoff push.
ALA needs a win here to formally secure an ideal spot in the quarterfinals as a loss will endanger their chances. If ALA loses, they may end up in a three-way tie with PHX & ROS for the last two spots in the top 8, and since ROS beat BOTH ALA & PHX, ROS will end up 7th and ALA will be 8th. If ALA wins, however, they could figure in a multiple team tie with MAH, MER, and maybe even PHX at 6-5. ALA no longer has any chance of making the top 4 based on their win-loss record against those three teams, but at least they won’t be 8th.
NLX also needs to win here to avoid the 8th seed because their win-loss record against MAH, MER, & PHX stands at 1-2, which could be good enough for as high as 6th seed (MER 3-0, PHX 2-1, NLX 1-2, MAH 0-3). If NLX loses and they tie with BOTH PHX & ROS, NLX finishes 7th (1-1 record, +8 point differential). If NLX loses and ties with only ROS, NLX gets 8th spot. If NLX loses and ties with only PHX, NLX gets 8th as well.
ALA is coming off a big win over PHX with 6 guys scoring in double-figures. If the Aces can get that balance here again, they should be in a good position to beat NLX.
NLX, meanwhile, is also coming off a big win over GLO. They are looking for their third straight win and a lot of momentum heading into the quarterfinals.
ALA has beaten NLX in both their previous meetings this season, so NLX also wants to get some measure of payback against the Aces.
1. ALA: HENTON’S HEAVY LIFTING
– LaDontae Henton scored a season-low 15 points against PHX, but he compensated with 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block. It’s impressive how he found a way to contribute even if he didn’t shoot well (6/20) from the field.
vs PHX: 15pts, 20rebs, 3asts, 4stls, 1blk, 1 triple, 6/20 FGs.
Stats: 32.4ppg, 12.2rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1bpg, 3.0 triples per game, 42.3 3pt%, 51.7 FG%.
2. ALA: BEAST ON THE PROWL
– Calvin Abueva’s last two games have been nothing short of superb, and it’s no wonder why the Aces are on a big three-game winning streak. If the Beast continues to be aggressive and on the prowl in putting up big numbers, the Aves should have little trouble beating NLX here.
First 6 games: 13.7ppg, 6.5rpg, 42.9 FG%.
Last 2 games: 19.5ppg, 14.5rpg, 53.6 FG%.
3. ALA: INCREDIBLE INSIDE
– ALA exploited its aggressiveness and size around the basket in their win over PHX. ALA won the battle of the boards by a big margin, and they did the same in terms of points in the paint. If the Aces are left unchecked in the box tonight, NLX will find it very tough to pull out a win.
Rebounds – ALA 70, PHX 52
Abueva – 21rebs
Henton – 20rebs
Thoss – 8rebs
Casio – 6rebs
Pts in the Paint – ALA 60, PHX 42
Abueva – 14pts
Banchero – 10pts
Henton – 8pts
Thoss – 8pts
Jazul – 6pts
4. NLX: WALKING PROUD
– Henry Walker caught fire from long range in NLX’s win over GLO, hitting 6 triples en route to 35 points. He also did a great job cleaning the glass and protecting the basket. Walker has really been heaven sent for the Road Warriors, and they will certainly rely on hi versatility and explosiveness in this crucial tiff vs ALA.
vs GLO: 35pts, 13rebs, 1stl, 3blks, 6 triples, 14/32 FGs.
Stats: 31.1ppg, 10.7rpg, 2.7apg, 1.2spg, 4.4 triples per game, 37.0 3pt%, 47.7 FG%.
5. NLX: GUNS OF GABO
– Gabo Lanete isn’t considered by many to be a star player in the PBA, but he has been playing like one for NLX in their last two wins. He has, in fact, been the biggest difference-maker for the Road Warriors, and if the guns of Gabo continue to hit their targets here, the Aces may be in big trouble.
First 7 games: 4.6ppg, 1.1 triples per game, 37.0 FG%.
Last 2 games: 23.0ppg, 5.5 triples per game, 61.1 3pt%, 58.3 FG%.
6. NLX: SECOND CHANCES
– Before winning their last 2 games, NLX was in limbo, but they’ve been given a second chance to make dent in this conference. They also did well in terms of second chance points in their last game against GLO, and if guys like Walker, Asi Taulava, and Sean Anthony can continue to do a great job of crashing the offensive boards, then that’s gonna be a very good sign for the Road Warriors.
2nd chance Pts – NLX 20, GLO 10
Off Rebs – NLX 20, GLO 9
Taulava – 4 orebs
Anthony – 4 orebs
Alas – 3 orebs
7. KEY MATCH-UP: SONNY THOSS X ASI TAULAVA
– These two local big men will go head to head here, and their match up will be crucial in determining who will have the edge in the paint and perhaps in the game overall. Thoss is coming off a good pair of games, and he will look to continue his high production against like-minded veteran Taulava, who is coming off a nice double-double against the Batang Pier. Whoever can anchor the middle more solidly should give his squad a significant edge in rebounding and rim protection.
Thoss last game: 11pts, 8rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 5/11 FGs.
Taulava last game: 11pts, 11rebs, 3asts, 1blk, 4/11 FGs.
Thoss stats: 6.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.0apg, 40.8 FG%.
Taulava stats: 9.1ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.4apg, 42.3 FG%.