PBA: NLEX hopes to build on breakthrough win

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2020 02:38 PM

NLEX guard Jericho Cruz attempts a layup against NorthPort. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX coach Yeng Guiao believes the Road Warriors can still salvage their campaign in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup after finally claiming their first win on Wednesday night against NorthPort Batang Pier.

Strong games from Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and JR Quinahan pushed the Road Warriors to a 102-88 win, their first in the bubble after dropping their first three assignments.

The result kept NLEX in the running for a playoff spot as the All-Filipino Conference nears its halfway point.

"We were just trying to be positive as much as we can," Guiao said of his team, who absorbed defeats to Barangay Ginebra, Magnolia, and Blackwater before finally breaking through against the Batang Pier.

"We felt that if we could sustain our energy, if we could just lift each other up and be positive, maybe we can still make something out of this tournament," he added.

The difference against NorthPort was that the Road Warriors sustained their effort and energy for 48 minutes. They pulled away in the fourth quarter, when they built a lead as large as 20 points.

Guiao noted that in previous games, his team was good "for two or three quarters." They memorably squandered a double-digit lead against Magnolia last October 14, falling apart in the face of the Hotshots' press and giving up a late four-point play to Paul Lee en route to a 103-100 defeat.

"At least for now tumagal kami hanggang fourth quarter," said Guiao, who also acknowledged that the Road Warriors got a big break when NorthPort's Sean Anthony exited late in the first quarter due to a hamstring injury.

"But their guards were still killing us," he also said. "Kevin Ferrer hit some big 3s. It's a good thing we were able to gain some distance or some momentum after that."

Now with a 1-3 win-loss record, Guiao said the Road Warriors are still capable of making a run in the All-Filipino.

"We're just trying to survive, we're just trying to get our bearings back, our chemistry back," he said.

"We have one day break and then we play Meralco, let's see how far this takes us," he added.

Like NLEX, the Bolts will also be coming off a morale-boosting win after outlasting Magnolia in overtime, 109-104, last Tuesday.