Road Warriors upbeat for coming all-filipino
There will be no shortage of inspiration for NLEX when it plunges into action in the new PBA season.
“The mere fact that we made the [top seed] and beat really good teams last year gives us confidence,” said coach Yeng Guiao, shortly after the Road Warriors’ practice at FCL Sports Center on Monday.
NLEX finished as the No. 1 team in the eliminations of last season’s Governors’ Cup, only to lose a twice-to-beat advantage to NorthPort that cut the Road Warriors’ season short.
“As for the pieces, we’re almost there,” Guiao said. “Everybody’s on their way to being a hundred percent healthy, so we all feel we will have a good conference in the all-Filipino.”
Kevin Alas, NLEX’s other starting guard, was long cleared to play last conference, but Guiao said his ward was not as primed as he is now.
“He was not competition-ready [back then],” Guiao said of Alas, who was coming off a second knee injury. “He was not complete. But I feel he’s ready now.”
Then there’s Asi Taulava and Cyrus Baguio, NLEX’s pair of veterans who are looking to end their careers gracefully.
“We are shooting for a good finish so we could send them off on a good note,” Guiao said.
And of course, there’s Kiefer Ravena, the team’s cornerstone, whose return to the pro circuit was cut short because of that quarterfinal loss to the Batang Pier.
“I still wanted to play in the last conference,” Ravena said. “I’ve had a long break and then, what? Another three, four months of rest?”
“Hopefully, this time, I could play for a whole year without interruptions—no injuries, no off-the-court issues. Just going to focus on helping this team win,” added Ravena, who was undeniably a large factor in NLEX’s resurgence in the 2019 season.
Guiao said he is also looking forward to unveiling his rookies, most especially Mike Ayonayon, whom he has high praises for.
“The rookies have to earn their minutes, [but] I feel [Mike] is PBA-ready. He’s long overdue. He should have declared for the draft two years ago,” Guiao added of Ayonayon, who has had stints in the D-League and Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
“I’m satisfied with the progress of this team,” he said. INQ
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