Reigning PBA Philippine Cup five-peat champ San Miguel Beer is no doubt playoffs-bound. Up in the air is the fate of the NLEX Road Warriors.
The two teams push their respective bids as they clash at 4 p.m. Friday in the PBA bubble play at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles, Pampanga.
They’re rungs apart in the leaderboard but draw much attention and interest in their match, considering the Road Warriors are fresh from conquests of two elite teams in TNT Tropang Giga and Rain or Shine.
But they’re still hard-pressed to get going – something they want done against the Beermen – in chase of a place in the post-elims play.
Fuelling their drive is a desire not to pack their bubble bags yet.
“Ayaw pa namin umuwi,” said Jericho Cruz, one of the key guys in their 94-74 rout of the Elasto Painters that got them back in the thick of things at 3-5.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao hopes it’s not yet late, but he feels his team has just got into shape.
“Nung umpisa we’re not in good shape and our defense was lousy. But the last few games, yung fitness namin translated into extra energy in defense,” said Guiao.
Against SMB, the Road Warriors, however, are up against a bunch of guys who’ve also hit some rhythm after a hard struggle in the early goings of the bubble play.