Despite current skid, Guiao excited over promise of guard-heavy future
MANILA, Philippines—NLEX is fast becoming roadkill in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, crashing to a 0-6 slate after its 98-88 loss to Magnolia, but head coach Yeng Guiao isn’t losing hope, not with a lot of promise showing in his backcourt.
Guiao got reunited with his former gunner Jericho Cruz, who really hit his stride under the fiery mentor when they were together at Rain or Shine. And as Cruz slowly fits into the Road Warriors’ rotation, he gets enough time to absorb the system while waiting for Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas to join the team.
“Jericho, I think, added a new dimension to our team. He’s aggressive, he knows my system, he knows what I like, he can play both ends. He can score, he can defend,” said Guiao Friday at Mall of Asia Arena. “I think he would be a good addition, especially if we already have Kiefer and Kevin. We’re excited.”
Ravena, who Fiba suspended for 18 months for violating anti-doping regulations, was off to a great rookie year in the 2018 Philippine Cup putting up 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists per game as he teamed up with Alas, who suffered three anterior cruciate ligament tears, and was equally impressive in the same conference with solid numbers of 11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 2.5 apg.
Both Ravena and Alas are on their way back to the league and Guiao expects Cruz, the 2016 Most Improved Player, to turn the fantastic duo into a deadly trio.
Cruz, the ninth overall pick of the 2014 Draft, averaged 12.5 points on 49.3 percent shooting during the 2015-16 season while playing under Guiao and the partnership resulted in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.
“I feel whatever happens, we should be playing better in the third conference if Kiefer, Kevin and Jericho are all together,” said Guiao whose team has to go a perfect 5-0 in its final games of the elimination to make the playoffs.
“If we get our vacation earlier than expected we can also bring in the imports earlier for the preparation. That’s our plan B. Plan A is to win as many as we can and see where that takes us.”
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