The NLEX Road Warriors will look to complete an upset, as they take on the Meralco Bolts in a sudden-death contest in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. NLEX or Meralco? Read on for more about this game.
Catch this game live on October 1 at 6 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymond Almazan
The Bolts missed a chance to book a spot in the semifinals early after they lost to NLEX on Tuesday to the tune of an 81-80 score. They were simply burned by Road Warriors rookie Calvin Oftana, but the Bolts can also blame themselves for that setback. Meralco committed a total of 20 turnovers in that game. Cutting down on those errors is definitely a point of emphasis for the Bolts ahead of their do-or-die game this Friday.
There should also be a sense of urgency for two of their biggest offensive guns to recover from subpar performances in the loss to NLEX. That would be Chris Newsome and Alvin Pasaol, who combined for just nine points. Meanwhile, Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi put up 12 and 16 points, respectively. Belo missed two crucial free throws that could have sealed the deal for the Bolts. All four are still capable of going off at the same time. At the very least, they can stretch the floor for the team and open up spaces for the likes of John Quinto and Raymond Almazan. It was not that long ago when the Bolts defeated NLEX on Sep. 22, 104-101, by leaning on Belo, Maliksi, Pasaol, and Almazan.
The NLEX Road Warriors
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Kevin Alas
- SG: Don Trollano
- SF: Calvin Oftana
- PF: Anthony Semerad
- C: Raul Soyud
At this point, it’s fair to say that Oftana has become a nightmare for Meralco. Oftana torched Meralco with 34 points in a meeting back in the elimination round and the next time the two teams crossed paths, he stuffed the stat sheets with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block in 32 minutes. That’s not to mention the game-wining bucket he made to ensure NLEX. Oftana is hardly the only hero for NLEX in that game, as Anthony Semerad started and generated 23 points on the strength of 5-of-10 shooting from deep.
This is why it can be a headache for teams planning against Yeng Guiao’s teams. They just don’t know which player will step up. Semerad might not score over 20 points on Friday, but anyone from unassuming guys like Don Trollano, Philip Paniamogan, Ken Ighalo, and Raul Soyud could. In any case, Kevin Alas and Jericho Cruz will have to show the way for NLEX. Alas only had nine points on Tuesday, while Cruz came off the bench and fired 10 points.
Spread: Meralco wakes up and dominates the Road Warriors with its relentless offense. Take the Bolts to win and cover (-3.5).
Over/Under: It’s only the Bolts who’ll enjoy a great offensive outing here. Take the Under (177.0).