The PBA's 43rd season was a loooooong one.
Seriously, it started December of 2017 and it ended December of 2018. That's 12 months of almost non-stop basketball.
But with the current PBA season finally drawing to a close, it's time we look back at how each team fared in 2018.
Today, we take on the NLEX Road Warriors.
After a problematic first season under new head coach Yeng Guiao, NLEX hit the jackpot in the 2017 PBA Draft.
Armed with the no. 2 pick, the Road Warriors made the obvious choice and took guard Kiefer Ravena, arguably the most PBA ready prospect to make the jump in forever.
He was PBA ready alright.
Kief wasted little time in helping NLEX turn things around. With Ravena at the lead, the Road Warriors had their best tournament in the PBA so far and made the semifinals of the Philippine Cup, pushing the Magnolia Hotshots to six games.
That’s pretty much the best part of NLEX’s season though.
The Road Warriors failed to have a strong finish in the semis series against the Hotshots after Kevin Alas tore his ACL early in Game 5. With Alas out, NLEX’s emerging K&K backcourt tandem was decimated.
And after Ravena’s shock suspension from FIBA, the K&K, and in essence NLEX’s whole season, was lost.
Ravena was slapped with an 18-month ban by FIBA for doping. Ravena took a protein drink with prohibited ingredients prior Gilas Pilipinas’ home win over Japan in the 2019 FIBA Asia Qualifiers in February. The suspension covers all basketball activities, including the PBA.
With that development, NLEX naturally spiraled out of control in the Commissioner’s Cup, leading to an early elimination.
The Road Warriors did well enough in the Asia League Summer Super 8 in Macau, finishing in the semifinals, to help set up a strong run in the Governors’ Cup.
But with most of its key pieces gone, NLEX flamed out in the quarterfinals and a season that started with so much promise ended in bitter defeat.
Patience will be a virtue for NLEX moving forward, but once the Road Warriors finally feature a complete lineup, the team’s suspended surge can hopefully continue in 2019 and beyond.
NLEX ROAD WARRIORS in the 2017-2018 PBA Season
Philippine Cup: 6-5 (6th place)
Commissioner’s Cup: 2-9 (11th place)
Governors’ Cup: 5-6 (8th place)
Overall: 13 wins and 20 losses. Two playoff appearances, 1 Semifinals.
POST DRAFT NOTE:
NLEX used two first round picks to select Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter.
Both rookies didn’t play one game for the Road Warriors.
NLEX used the two rookies as trade bait and eventually nabbed center Poy Erram from Blackwater.
Erram certainly gives the Road Warriors a top center and he should be instrumental in NLEX as the team waits to feature a complete lineup with the K&K tandem.
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