By JONAS TERRADO
Opening day winners Meralco and NLEX seek their second straight victories and the share of the early lead when they face separate rivals today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
NLEX, with coach Yeng Guiao still out due to his stint with the national team in the Asian Games, faces NorthPort (formerly GlobalPort) in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser before reigning two-time Best Import Allen Durham and Meralco tackle TNT KaTropa at 6:45 p.m.
The two squads owned by Manny V. Pangilinan started the season-ending conference on a high note during Friday’s opener at the same venue.
Meralco bucked a sluggish first half to survive Columbian Dyip, 109-106, while NLEX frustrated TNT, 103-90, behind a courageous performance by injured import Olu Ashaoulu who had 33 points and 23 rebounds.
The Bolts, seeking their first championship after losing twice in the Finals to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, are hoping to get a better showing from reigning two-time Best Import Allen Durham after a sluggish start against the Dyip.
Durham was able to pick it up in the second half to finish with 26 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists.
“I think he’ll get better as the conference goes on,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “Once he continues to be in game shape then I expect better things out of him going forward.”
Durham is expected to give plenty of problems for the KaTropa, who had a lackluster showing against the Road Warriors.
TNT coach Nash Racela admitted that his desire to see more from import Mike Glover after posting just 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Meanwhile, NLEX tries to deal with the dilemma of playing with Ashaoulu nursing a knee injury despite a strong showing against TNT.
Assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa said the Nigerian-Canadian is likely to be replaced due to the injury sustained in a tune-up game against Meralco, though Ashaoulu is determined to do whatever he can to give NLEX victories.
NorthPort, on the other hand, will start its campaign minus Stanley Pringle, who is also in Jakarta representing the country in the Asian Games.