MERALCO and NLEX slug it out Saturday in a rematch of their all-Filipino quarterfinals face-off last season, each side bracing for a tough battle. Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo with the Bolts (3-1) seeking to fortify their position in the lead pack and the Road Warriors out to steady themselves from a win-loss-win-loss ride.
In the last Philippine Cup elims, the Bolts finished at No. 2 and the Road Warriors at No. 7, thus, finding themselves matched up in the quarters.
The Bolts, the team with the twice-to-beat advantage, botched their first crack at the semis but pulled through in the next, in the process advancing to the Final Four versus eventual tournament runner-up Magnolia.
Coach Norman Black and his chargers did even better in the next tournament, setting up a fourth edition of a Governors' Cup finals showdown with Ginebra. Alas, the Bolts settled for runner-up honors yet again.
For this campaign, Black said the target is to go all the way to win a first ever PBA crown for the franchise.
"There's only one expectation and that's to win the championship," he said.
For NLEX, the immediate goal is to be consistent and steady - something that they obviously have to work on as evident in their shaky Season 47 Philippine Cup start.
They should have been at 3-1 but faltered in the second half and squandered a 16-point lead in a 75-83 heartbreaker against Ginebra.
Earlier, they chalked up victories over Terrafirma (105-102) and TNT (90-89) and suffered a blowout to San Miguel Beer (92-100).
The Bolts are determined to keep their place among the leaders, hoping to earn the twice-to-beat bonus.
"We don't want the top teams like San Miguel Beer, TNT, Ginebra or Magnolia to get ahead of us and get the twice-to-beat right off. We'll be competitive and try to catch or overtake them," said Black. (SB)
(Photo credits to: PBA)