DEFENDING champion San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors battle each other to see which team remains unbeaten and gains a piece of the early lead in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
After they both won their openers, the Beermen and the Road Warriors shoot for a second straight victory when their paths meet at 4:15 p.m. to open today’s twin bill at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Following that clash will be a battle between the Star Hotshots and the Blackwater Elite at 7 p.m. Both teams are looking for their first win of the tournament after losing their initial assignments.
The victor between San Miguel and NLEX will join the Meralco Bolts and unlikely co-leader Mahindra Enforcers. Both hold 2-0 records and are at the top of the heap.
“It’s important for us to have a good start. We cannot afford to relax. Every team is competitive,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “We have a title to defend and we need to keep playing hard.”
“We have to start strong and match their intensity,” said Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez on their match-up against San Miguel Beer. The Road Warriors, with prolific import Henry Walker, are equally formidable.
Despite a depleted line-up due to injuries, the Beermen were still able to show why they are the defending champion. They withstood a tough challenge from the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters to post a hard-earned 124-113 victory last Sunday.
In that game, Arizona Reid showcased his entire offensive repertoire by scoring 41 points to tow the Beermen to triumph even though the team missed the services of Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Chris Lutz and Yancy De Ocampo. All four players are all currently out with various injuries.
The four are expected to continue sitting out more games as they recuperate.
Like San Miguel Beer, NLEX was likewise impressive in its debut.
Behind Walker’s conference-high 44 points, the Road Warriors turned back Blackwater, 96-90, last Saturday to earn their first win decisively.
The Hotshots and the Elite both want to post wins early in the elimination round. This tiff against each other is vital in such a short conference format.
While the Elite lost to NLEX, Star dropped a tough 100-92 decision to Mahindra in overtime last week.
Falling to 0-2 and joining the teams at the bottom of the standings is certainly not on the wish list of either team.
(Smart Araneta Coliseum):
4:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs. NLEX
7 p.m. – Star vs. Blackwater