PBA: Guiao still upbeat despite season-opening loss for NLEX

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2020 05:57 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2020 05:58 PM

NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX's loss to Ginebra on Sunday was disappointing, but coach Yeng Guiao is confident that the Road Warriors will get better as the conference progresses.

In their first game of the PBA Philippine Cup inside the bubble in Clark, the Road Warriors absorbed a 102-92 loss to the Gin Kings. NLEX had a subpar performance, with JR Quinahan blowing a career game by getting ejected in the third quarter, while Kiefer Ravena never got going after a slow start.

As disappointed as they are, Guiao believes that the setback is part of the team's growing pains.

"We feel it's part of the adjustment period. We feel that we should get better every practice day," the coach said on Monday after their loss.

He pointed to the team's miscommunications on defense as a primary reason for their loss. Even with Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio playing limited, the Road Warriors had no answers for Ginebra's offense. 

Seven players reached double-digits for Ginebra, with Aljon Mariano scoring 20 points. NLEX allowed the Gin Kings to shoot 48% for the game, including 41% from beyond the arc.

"We're not that smooth, we're not that cohesive. Our reactions were a step late," said Guiao. "Siguro, parte pa rin 'yun ng long break." 

"But overall, I still feel good about this tournament," he added. "I think we just need to gather ourselves back together." 

The coach warned, however, that NLEX has to make adjustments quickly, considering the compressed schedule of the All-Filipino Cup. The Road Warriors only had two days to recover before returning to action on Wednesday, where they will take on the Magnolia Hotshots. 

Guiao noted that an early losing skid will be brutal in a short conference.

"I've been telling the team, mahirap to put yourself into a hole in this situation. It's very hard to get out, especially with a compressed schedule, especially with very little adjustment period in between games," he said.

"So kailangan, mabilis kang mag-adjust. Kailangan mabilis ka mag-react," he added. "So in a situation like this, the quicker you process, the quicker you learn, the better it is for you."

The Hotshots will be another difficult challenge for the Road Warriors, as Guiao considers Magnolia as one of the contenders in the season. This, even though the Hotshots entered the bubble with a 0-1 record owing to their loss to San Miguel all the way back in March, during the PBA's opening night.

"That 0-1 record of theirs should not really take anything away from how good this team is," said Guiao, who pointed to Magnolia's impressive backcourt as one of their causes for concern.

"You have to apply early pressure," he said of their game plan. "That means you have to be relentless in chasing those guards coming off screens or just pushing the ball in transition. So, kailangan kami mag-focus muna sa depensa."