MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao said the Road Warriors must be quick to move on after suffering a second consecutive defeat in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup.
After a 102-92 defeat to Ginebra in their first game, NLEX appeared headed for a comfortable win when they took a 22-point lead against the Magnolia Hotshots on Wednesday night. But they fell apart in the face of Magnolia's pressure defense, and a late four-point play by Paul Lee sent them to a 103-100 defeat.
"I think the challenge for us, and for this bubble in general, is to, win or lose, go to a quick reset for the next game," Guiao told reporters in a media availability session at the Quest Hotel on Thursday morning.
"Whether you win or you lose, you cannot focus on what's behind, you have to focus on what's ahead. So that's what we're doing. The quicker we make that adjustment, the better it is for the whole team," he added.
NLEX was in complete control of the contest until midway through the third quarter, with a three-pointer by Kiefer Ravena putting them up by 22, 70-48.
When Chito Victolero put in his second unit, anchored by Jiovani Jalalon, the Road Warriors proved unable to keep up with the Hotshots' pace. NLEX's guards struggled to break the Magnolia press, and they committed seven turnovers in the third quarter.
NLEX had 10 more giveaways in the fourth, from which Magnolia scored 12 points. Guiao said their turnovers were one of the reasons for the collapse.
"It was a game we felt that we should have won. It was ours to lose," he lamented.
Another reason for their loss? Bad breaks, according to Guiao.
"The Magnolia team just overwhelmed us with free throw shooting. 45 free throws for the whole game, that's a ton of free throws. You give a team that many free throws, you're bound to lose even if you have a big lead," he said.
"But we also got bad breaks. I felt that there were certain calls that were missed," Guiao added. "So that's part of the breaks. But I felt if we would have gotten those breaks, we could have escaped with a win."
Guiao lost Kevin Alas and JR Quinahan to fouls, with Quinahan exiting the game in the third quarter. Jericho Cruz, meanwhile, had to be helped off the floor in the fourth period after suffering an ankle sprain.
That left Ravena to carry the load in the clutch, and while he responded with 27 points, the Road Warriors faded down the stretch after Lee's big basket.
Having just one of Alas, Quinahan, or Cruz on the floor in the final moments would have made a difference, Guiao said, but he also made it clear that they cannot dwell on the result.
The cramped schedule of the conference means that NLEX has just two days to regroup before they return to action. They take on Blackwater on Saturday, still at the Angeles University Foundation Gym
"We just need to work hard, we just need to reset and be able to gather ourselves again," said Guiao. "Ako, tingin ko from the Ginebra game to the Purefoods game, malaking improvement kami eh."
"Malaking improvement kami, especially defensively. Breaks lang talaga bandang huli. So we will still improve in our next game," he guaranteed.