THE NLEX Road Warriors and Blackwater Elite, two teams currently in a skid in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup, try to wiggle out of their funk as they take on each other in league action today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
To face off in the 4:15 p.m. opener, the Road Warriors and Elite are eyeing a halt to their early bleeding in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament that has seen them each lose back-to-back games of late.
After debuting with a win, now-Yeng Guaio-coached NLEX (1-2) has lost its last two matches -- against the Meralco Bolts and Star Hotshots in that order -- to an average deficit of 18.5 points.
While they are viewing the slide as an “opportunity to build character” as they figure their way in the new culture brought by Mr. Guiao, still the Road Warriors hope to address it so as not to lose much ground in the competition.
Leading the charge for NLEX is forward Sean Anthony, who is averaging 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.7 steals in three games so far.
Also averaging double-figures scoring for the team are Carlo Lastimosa (12 ppg) and Jonas Villanueva (11.3 ppg).
Trying to beat NLEX to the springboard back to winning is Blackwater (2-2), which has seen a 2-0 start to the tournament fizzle after dropping their last two games.
The latest of the Elite’s losses came last Friday at the hands of the Rain or Shine Elastopainters, 107-93.
Despite having five players scoring in double digits, the young Blackwater crew could not keep in step with the veteran-led Rain or Shine team as the game wore on.
Raymond Aguilar paced the Elite in a losing effort with 15 points, to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
Prized rookie Mac Belo chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds while James Sena and Arthur Dela Cruz each had 12 markers.
Following the opener between NLEX and Blackwater is the main game at 7 p.m. between the Meralco Bolts and Alaska Aces.
The Bolts (2-1) are riding a two-game win streak while the Aces (1-2) are coming off their first win in the Philippine Cup after opening it with two straight losses.
Meanwhile, Star guard Paul Lee was named PBA player of the week after averaging 19 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4 assists in two victories for the team last week.
Acquired from Rain or Shine in a blockbuster trade in the offseason in exchange for two-time league most valuable player James Yap, Mr. Lee has slowly but surely finding his form in his new team after a jittery start to their campaign.
The Hotshots have improved to 2-2 following their back-to-back wins.