MANILA, Philippines – NLEX teeters on the brink of wasting its playoff bonus for the second straight time, but Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao seems unperturbed.
Guiao expressed confidence in his wards even after NLEX blew a 16-point lead and absorbed a 79-93 loss to Alaska in the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday, March 17.
Fortunately for the Road Warriors, they enjoy the benefits of a twice-to-beat advantage they gained after finishing the elimination round as the second seed.
“I still feel very good about getting to the semifinals, I know we’ve been here before,” Guiao said. “We do not want a repetition of that bad experience we had two or three years ago.”
Guiao was referring to the 2019 Governors’ Cup, which saw NLEX squander its win-once incentive no thanks to back-to-back stunning losses to NorthPort.
The Road Warriors seized the top spot but ended up as only the fourth No. 1 team in PBA history to exit the quarters, with the No. 8 Batang Pier pulling off a triple overtime win in the sudden death to complete the upset.
Interestingly, just like its loss to the Aces, NLEX blew a 16-point advantage against the Batang Pier in their knockout game.
For Guiao, though, that is a thing of the past now as he looks to avoid history from repeating itself against an Alaska crew determined to extend its last dance in the PBA.
A silver lining for Guiao is the fact that import Cameron Clark already has first-hand experience of PBA play.
With large shoes to fill as a replacement for former NBA player KJ McDaniels, a contender for Best Import of the Conference, Clark delivered solid numbers in his PBA debut with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
“I’m happy with the way he played. It was the first time he played in Asia, so his whole professional career, he had been in Europe,” Guiao said.
“He is trying to feel it out how it is to be an import in the PBA and in Asia in general. I think he has got a good idea now. Also he is a system player.”
Whether the Road Warriors will go on an early vacation or advance will be determined on Saturday, March 19, as they tangle with the Aces in their do-or-die affair. – Rappler.com