MANILA, Philippines -- Reaching the semifinals of the upcoming PBA conference will already be a huge achievement for the NLEX Road Warriors, given the landscape of the league.
This, according to NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao who said he will be "very happy" to make it to the semifinals.
"When you make the semifinals, that means you're in the top 4. There are four solid teams that I think are already probably seeded to those top 4," Guiao said in an appearance on "The Gilas Zone."
The veteran coach is referring to Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Magnolia, and TNT Tropang GIGA -- all of whom made big moves in the offseason to shore up their already powerful rosters.
In an interview in March, Guiao expressed his belief that the PBA has essentially become a four-team league, and other franchises are playing for fifth place.
"Ang tingin ko, parang ang feeling ko nga noong nakita ko ang mga lineup, ang feeling ko pinaglalabanan na lang dito, fifth place eh," he said at the time.
The coach noted that several players of the Philippine national team are concentrated in those four teams. On "The Gilas Zone," he pointed out that Barangay Ginebra's starting five is composed of Gilas Pilipinas players -- Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, and Scottie Thompson.
"All of those guys are Gilas players, just two years ago," he said, while adding that Ginebra also has the "best coach in the Philippines" in Tim Cone.
San Miguel, meanwhile, still has six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo as well as Marcio Lassiter, whom Guiao considers the best shooter in the country. "They have Chris Ross, they have Alex Cabagnot, all of these guys also played for the Gilas team," Guiao added.
"And then there's Magnolia, and again there's three or four Gilas players in that lineup. In NLEX, I have only Kiefer (Ravena) who's played for Gilas," he said.
Thus, Guiao believes that making it to the semifinals will already be a remarkable result for NLEX, considering their underdog status.
NLEX has not made the semifinals since the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup, where they lost in six games to the Magnolia Hotshots.
In the most recent All-Filipino Conference, they finished in ninth place with a 5-6 record, missing the playoffs by one game.
"We're going to have to upset these teams," said Guiao. "We're not going to be favored when we play them."
"As good as I think we are right now, we're still going to be underdogs. So if we can break into the Top 4, I'll be very happy," he added.