Rappler Fastbreak: NLEX, Blackwater force do-or-die games
Air21 - JRU Heavy Bombers (108) - (94) NLEX Road Warriors
Best: Five Heavy Bombers breached double-digit scoring led by Byron Villarias' 24 markers. Philip Paniamogan and Dexter Maiquez each had 20 points across their names while John Pinto and Khasim Mirza also contributed 16 and 10 respectively.
That one-day preparation made instant wonders for JRU as they adjusted on their offense, something that was easily read by NLEX in Game 1. The Heavy Bombers knew their backs are against the wall and they badly wanted to win in order to live another day in their maiden conference with the league.
Worst: It could be complacency, or it could also be a case of too much pressure on their backs. The NLEX Road Warriors were favored to close out the series Thursday but they, for the first time, never led in the entire game. Even with a taller lineup than that of JRU's, no Road Warrior barged into double-digits in terms of rebounding.
On 'heart's day,' JRU all about heart: "We had a good start and what really kept us going is the heart of the players. Their desire to win today pushed us to extend the series. Nobody expected us to enter the quarterfinals, moreso, even the semifinals but we're here, still alive and fighting. We'll just play our game and just fight until the final buzzer." Those were the beautiful words that JRU coach Vergel Meneses shared to everyone after tying the best-of-three semis series.
Blackwater Sports (86) - (79) Cagayan Valley Rising Suns
Best: They didn't want to lose two in a row and get booted out of the season just like that against a team they defeated in the eliminations by 20 points. Blackwater just found ways on how to limit or contain some key players of Cagayan.
Worst: Cagayan's starting big men. After finishing with a double-double in Game 1, Raymund Almazan could only come up with four points and eight rebounds this time around. Add that to another lackluster outing from Mark Bringsa (six points, five boards) and second-stringer Edrian Lao (11 points, 10 rebounds) was left to carry the cudgels for the Rising Suns.
For what it's worth: "At least this time around, we didn't come out flat. The boys took the challenge to measure how good they are in terms of bouncing back and getting that victory. Disciplined offense and smooth-running defense will be the key again on Tuesday." Coach Leo Isaac has always been optimistic about his team. With his pointers being followed by the Sports, Game 3 between the Rising Suns and Blackwater will surely go down-the-wire for the right to barge into the Finals.