As PBA playoffs beckons, Guiao worried of uncharacteristic NLEX slump

Delfin Dioquino

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As PBA playoffs beckons, Guiao worried of uncharacteristic NLEX slump
NLEX won 8 of its first 9 games in the PBA Governors' Cup but wrapped up the elimination round with back-to-back losses

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – Yeng Guiao expressed concern over NLEX ending the elimination round of the PBA Governors’ Cup with back-to-back losses, especially with the playoffs on the horizon.

After winning 8 of its first 9 games, NLEX surprisingly fell on a slump, dropping a narrow loss to NorthPort before being blown out by Alaska, 90-106, in the season-ending conference on Wednesday, November 20. 

“The last two games were our worst games. It’s kind of worrying to me because we should be peaking at this point, but our performance has dipped,” Guiao told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English. 

“We’re just playing badly,” he added. “I think that’s a reason to worry.”

Despite the two straight defeats, NLEX still finished the elimination round as the No. 1 seed and will enjoy a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals against, interestingly, a familiar foe in NorthPort. 

The playoff bonus will give NLEX a margin of error, but Guiao said he and his wards will try as much as possible to prevent NorthPort from forcing a do-or-die. 

“We know we have a twice-to-beat advantage, we know that false sense of confidence that we probably had the last time is going to be erased because they beat us.”

“Of course, even if you have a twice-to-beat advantage, your mentality is you only have one chance. When it comes to the game, our mentality should be that we only have one chance,” Guiao said. 

An NLEX loss would only level the playing field for NorthPort, Guiao added. 

“The next game you face them, the momentum, the odds, the confidence, they’re totally different. So in the first game, that’s your best chance of winning it.”

“We’ll have to prepare for our most important game so far at that first game against NorthPort.” 

The quarterfinals will kick off on Sunday, November 24, giving Guiao ample time to mentally prepare his players for a possible deep playoff run. 

“We have 2 or 3 days before we play again, so that sense of urgency, that mentality of just being relentless every game should be restored, brought back to our team.” 

“That’s my mission, the next 2 or 3 days, my job is to make them feel that urgency and translate that into sustained energy,” he said.

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.