The Meralco Bolts have a shot at taking solo second-place at the end of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. They can secure that outright by winning against the NLEX Road Warriors this Wednesday. The Road Warriors also need a victory, though, in order to help secure themselves a slot in the quarterfinals.
Catch this game live on September 22 at 3 pm, Manila time.
The NLEX Road Warriors (5-5)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Philip Paniamogan
- SG: Jericho Cruz
- SF: Calvin Oftana
- PF: Raul Soyud
- C: Kristoffer Porter
NLEX ended a three-game losing skid by defeating the Blackwater Bossing last week, 90-73. The Road Warriors surely did not waste the opportunity to score an easy victory and regain their morale by thwarting a historically inept squad in Blackwater, with Philip Paniamogan pacing NLEX with a season-high 14 points.
Meanwhile, four players off the bench chipped in at least 10 points each for the Road Warriors, who are one of the highest-scoring teams this conference. In fact, NLEX is second overall with 92.0 points per game. Even though Kiefer Ravena is no longer with the team, a contingent of talented guards and wing players help the Road Warriors on offense.
Jericho Cruz, Kevin Alas, and Don Trollano are capable of making a spark when they’re on the floor. The last time these two teams met back in October 2020, the Bolts prevailed, 101-92, with Cruz and Alas combining for 10 points on a salty 6-of-26 shooting from the field. NLEX is expecting a much better output from both, this time around.
The Meralco Bolts (7-2)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Allein Maliksi
- SF: John Quinto
- PF: Mac Belo
- C: Raymond Almazan
Like everybody else in the PBA, the Bolts defeated Blackwater in their most recent outing. Meralco had a field day on offense in that game, shooting 49% from the floor and outscoring Blackwater in second-chance points, 20-12.
The Bolts, who are riding a two-game win streak going into their matchup with NLEX, defeated Blackwater despite the absence of the pair of Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge because of health and safety protocols. Their statuses are still up in the air, but if they can’t go, Meralco still has dependable options to fill their void.
Take for example John Quinto, who started against Blackwater and put up 10 points, while dropping six dimes. Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo can stretch the floor enough to create lots of space for Raymond Almazan inside. Almazan had 15 points and 17 rebounds versus the Bossing, with both Maliksi and Belo in the starting unit.
Spread: The NLEX needs a win here more than Meralco. This will be a tight match. Take the Road Warriors to cover (+4.5).
Over/Under: This is a battle between the top two offensive-rebounding teams in the conference. Take the Under (178.5).