NLEX and NorthPort clash anew tonight for the last PBA Governors Cup semifinal seat at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
When one takes into consideration what the combatants’ main personalities have said, the deciding game should boil down to who wants it more.
The eighth-seeded Batang Pier have already proven their desire still burns, fashioning a wire-to-wire 115-90 victory over the top-ranked Road Warriors last Monday to negate the latter’s win-once advantage and set up tonight’s rubber match.
For NorthPort center Christian Standhardinger, that victory, their second in as many meetings with NLEX since the eliminations, would be put to waste if they can’t complete the job.
“It was good that we won and my teammates played tremendous. But it means absolutely nothing,” said Standhardinger.
“If we lose (the) next game, it means absolutely nothing. We just gotta be strict. We gotta recover now and we gotta take care of business, try to do our best next game,” the Fil-German added.
For NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, his charges must regain the fervor that carried them to the top for the first time in franchise history and clearly absent in their current three-game slide.
“We need to regain intensity,” said Guiao following a lengthy post-game meeting with his staff last Monday.
“From the start kasi… out-energized kami. Masyadong kitang-kita ‘yung intensity nila from the very beginning. Hindi namin mahabol, hindi mapantayan ‘yung energy na ‘yun.”
More so now that it is NLEX’s turn to be at a disadvantage.
League commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday meted Road Warriors Poy Erram and Paul Varilla one-game suspensions, which they would serve out tonight, and fines for their role in a fight that marred Monday’s match.
Erram was also fined P50,000 and Varilla P40,000 for their major role in the fight that also figured NorthPort import Michael Qualls.
Aside from the two, Standhardinger was fined P5,000 for a hard foul on Kiefer Ravena that was ruled a flagrant foul penalty one after a review by the league’s technical staff.
NLEX forward Philip Paniamogan was also fined P5,000 for an FFP1 on Standhardinger and Ravena P1,000 for a technical foul for second motion, also against Standhardinger.
Guiao could not be contacted for comment yesterday, but stressed his team needs to be prepared in case his two players would be forced to sit it out.
“NorthPort has been playing well and shooting really well the last two games and if we do not step up defensively, the same thing could happen (on Wednesday),” said Guiao.