Poor guard play highlights absence of Ravena, Alas in NLEX’s ‘bad loss’ to Meralco
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao felt his team committed one too many mistakes down the stretch in a crucial loss to Meralco, a game the Road Warriors initially had in their fingertips but let slip away.
NLEX blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter after Meralco fought back and pounced on the error-prone Road Warriors behind Allen Durham and Baser Amer.
“It’s really frustrating. It’s a bad loss. It’s not that they won the game but we lost it,” Guiao told reporters after a 108-105 defeat on Sunday.
“Just too many turnovers in a short period of time especially happening in the endgame. Turnovers and I felt the bad calls conspired to turn a win into a loss but we have to take some blame for it, we have to take some responsibility from it.”
Guiao was on point as the Road Warriors turned the ball over eight times in the last five minutes of the game.
“I couldn’t find a point guard in the endgame who can carry the game for us. Every point guard I used the result was a turnover and that’s why it’s really frustrating,” he said.
Late in the game, Guiao went with Philip Paniamogan first before turning to Mac Tallo, Kenneth Ighalo and lastly, Juami Tiongson to end the game.
The four, however, committed six turnovers combined in the last five minutes with Tiongson committing a pair of miscues in the last 41.2 seconds left.
On the other hand, the Bolts’ chief playmaker thrived in the pressure-packed moments as Amer scored 17 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, highlighted by the game-tying three-point play and game-winning triple with 13.6 ticks to go.
It also didn’t help that import Aaron Fuller fouled out for NLEX with still 46.2 seconds left while Durham came alive as the game grew weary for Meralco as the after a slow start. Durham, the reigning two-time Best Import, unleashed 30 of his game-high 36 points in the second half.
Guiao isn’t the type of coach who makes excuses but he admitted NLEX is sorely missing the absence of its star point guards Kiefer Ravena (suspension) and Kevin Alas (ACL) especially late in games.
“Of course [we miss them]. If we had Kevin or Kiefer in this game we would’ve won comfortably but it’s hard to think about something that isn’t going to happen at this point. We miss them but we know that’s not gonna happen soon so we just have to live with what he have.”
Fortunately for Guiao and the Road Warriors, guard Alex Mallari, who is out with a sprained ankle, is set to return next game.
At 4-5 with still a couple of games left against Rain or Shine and Alaska, Guiao still likes his team’s chances of making the playoffs.
“Before the string of turnovers happened, we were in control of the hame. We just have to look forward to the next game and win a couple more to get ourselves into the quarterfinals and see what happens after that,” he said.
“We still have a good chance of making the quarterfinals as long as we’re able to win our next games.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.