PBA: Yeng Guiao confident NLEX can contend in the Philippine Cup

Santino Honasan on Jan 07, 2019 04:49 PM
Yeng Guiao confident NLEX can contend in PBA Philippine Cup
“We’re trying to contend this conference. We have no more excuses.”

As the NLEX Road Warriors were wrapping practice up Monday at the Epsilon Chi Center inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus, head coach Yeng Guiao had a reminder for his wards.

“We’re trying to contend this conference. We have no more excuses.”

During last season’s Philippine Cup conference, NLEX were indeed contenders, finishing sixth in the eliminations and then making it all the way to the semifinals, before losing playmaker Kevin Alas to a torn ACL and then ultimately losing to Magnolia, 4-2 in the semis.

This year, Coach Yeng hopes to be able to go as far, if not further than their semis run last season.

“We’re hoping to improve on our last conference performance. Last year kasi, sa All-Filipino, we made it all the way to the semis, so maybe we just want to duplicate that. Perhaps, if we get lucky, baka maka-chamba pa.” Guiao told ABS-CBN Sports.

The long-time mentor is pinning NLEX’s success in the Philippine Cup on the arrival of star big man Poy Erram, as well as the return of Alas.

“At least siguro, we’re looking to make semis, especially with Erram there and Kevin healthy, then we have some rookies. We’re hoping we can duplicate that,” he added. “Pero hindi parin natin masasabi, pero maganda naman ang nakikita ko sa practice, so my outlook is quite positive.”

As far as personnel goes, Guaio believes that he has a better team this year than the one he coached to the semifinals last year, and a big part of that is his new starting center, as well as a talented batch of rookies in Kris Porter, Paul Varilla, and Kyles Lao.

The important thing now, as Guiao expressed, is to build harmony with all the pieces of the puzzle.

“Palagay ko, materially, we’re better than last year. Pero, having the materials, you also need to have the chemistry and the cohesion, so I think that’s going to be the next part. We can only make an honest assessment - kasi ngayon kung tatanungin mo ako, maganda, okay, positive, kaya natin mag-contend, pero until you see this team in actual competition, then that’s really the time then you can say more accurately where we can be this conference.”

“Materially, we’re better, I feel. Cohesion-wise, again, I feel good about our teamwork, our chemistry, but you can only test that with game pressure, in a real game situation,” he continued.

So far, Guiao says he’s happy with how his new guys are jelling with the more tenured Road Warriors.

“I’m also happy with the way our rookies and Poy Erram are blending in with the veterans, or the old-timers, so that’s a plus for me.”

With the 44th season of the PBA kicking off on January 13th, Guiao is looking at these remaining days of practice to tighten things up, with regards to his team’s defense.

Once the Road Warriors get those down pat, Guiao maintains that his team will be one to reckon with once the Philippine Cup gets underway.

“Itong last few days of practice, if we’re able to focus a little bit more on defense. Our offense is basically in place, so the last few days, we’ll try to focus on our defensive schemes,” he explained. “If we can complete that in time, yun nga, tingin ko makaka-contend kami sa conference na ito.

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