Staying in top shape a priority as real duty begins for NLEX import Olu Ashaolu
MANILA, Philippines—NLEX’s final game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup doesn’t mean the end of Olu Ashaolu’s duty to the Road Warriors. In fact, it’s just the start of his true responsibility to the team.
Ashaolu was brought to the Road Warriors to become the franchise’s import for the Governors’ Cup, but after subpar performances from Tony Mitchell and Curtis Washington, the 6-foot-5 forward was thrust to the position early.
Despite being undersized in a conference that allows a team to get imports up to 6-foot-10 in height, Ashaolu was by all standards dominant.
Ashaolu had 17 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists in the Road Warriors’ 87-85 win over Phoenix Friday at Cuneta Astrodome and he knows he has still to get better for the Governors’ Cup.
“I’m just getting accustomed to my teammates because there are a few new guys like Jericho [Cruz], so I’m getting accustomed to them,” said Ashaolu who was NLEX’ import in the 2018 Governors’ Cup.
“I’m getting my body in tip-top shape, and that’s pretty much it. I’m getting ready both physically and mentally.”
Ashaolu was NLEX’ third import in the Commissioner’s Cup after replacing Mitchell who in turn took over Washington at the start of the conference.
The Road Warriors were 2-7 by the time Ashaolu arrived and they finished the conference at 3-8.
Although the Road Warriors team that Ashaolu joined wasn’t at full strength, the one that will compete in the third conference would have Kiefer Ravena and possibly Kevin Alas.
“I’ve seen Kiefer in practice and he looks really good, so I’m excited even from last year because I’ve been hearing about him but I never got to practice wit him and play with him,” said Ashaolu.
Ravena was suspended for 18 months in 2018 for violating the World Anti-Doping Agency regulations while Alas suffered a knee injury in the Philippine Cup.
The backcourt was NLEX’ driving force with Ravena averaging 15.5 points and Alas putting up 11.5 points on a gamely basis in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup—the only conference the pair played the entirety.
“I’m excited because the guards play very strong here so I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited to get on the court with him and hopefully Kevin, after his injuries, will be able to come back as soon as he can,” said Ashaolu.
“I think there’s no excuse for us to not be competitive next conference.”
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.