NLEX sent back to reality with loss to Meralco
MANILA, Philippines – After conquering a huge fish in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the NLEX Road Warriors were given a reality check with their loss to the Meralco Bolts3 Wednesday, November 5.
"I always tell my players that we're just lucky we won against Ginebra," NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez said, hoping the 90-75 loss wasn't a case of complacency.
"We just have to continue to work hard and improve. But the way we played today, we're not improving."
Attempting to carry over its championship DNA from the D-League to the PBA, NLEX found itself plagued with inconsistencies so far in the Philippine Cup - moving a step forward then taking two steps back.
"We're up and down. We're inconsistent," Fernandez rued the team's current challenge.
NLEX currently holds a 2-2 record. They hit the ground running with a comeback win in their first outing versus Globalport, but slid back with a blowout loss to Talk 'N Text.
Against Ginebra, they used a blistering 34-15 fourth quarter to hand the Gin Kings its first loss.
But facing Meralco, NLEX fell behind once again and failed to ride their confidence-boosting win.
It's an uncommon sight for the Road Warriors to be going up and down. They ruled the D-League for 6 out of its last 7 conferences and hardly ever suffered defeat.
But they are in the PBA now, a much bigger pond with even bigger predators to try and take down.
If they want to contend, consistency will be their ally.
"I hope we all realize that if we want to win and be a contender in the PBA, we have to be consistent as a team in terms of defense and offense. I think as early as now we're learning," Fernandez said.
Unfortunately, it became extra difficult to stay the course when they battled a riled up Meralco, which was raring to atone for a 41-point shellacking.
"We started really flat in the first half," Fernandez explained what went wrong against the Bolts. "We had no defense, intensity wasn't there."
The first period was especially brutal for NLEX with Meralco stampeding over them to lead 18-4. Meralco's guns did not ease up until they were up 52-29 at the half.
The Bolts led by as much as 30, 69-39, early in the third period. And the Road Warriors could not recover without their three-point shots.
NLEX was a miserable 1-of-23 from long range and shot just 36% from the field. They also had 22 turnovers.
"Sama ng laro eh (They played horribly)," Fernandez admitted. "The game plan was not followed in the first half. We were forcing our shots."
With a more fluid second half showing, Fernandez sees some good that can help NLEX moving forward.
"I just told the boys that we will take the positives. If we played the way we played in the second half, I think we have a chance of winning (more games). We learn from that."
The Road Warriors will meet the San Miguel Beermen - another team looking to bounce back from being bumped off first place - in an out-of-town game Saturday, November 8 in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. – Rappler.com
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