MANILA—The NLEX Road Warriors may be without 2 key players when they play the NorthPort Batang Pier in a do-or-die game for a spot in the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Road Warriors were pushed to the brink by NorthPort on Monday, with the Batang Pier coming away with a comfortable 115-90 triumph.
To make matters worse for NLEX, they lost Poy Erram and Paul Varilla to ejection with 5 minutes left to play after both got involved in a scuffle with NorthPort import Michael Qualls.
The PBA is expected to sanction both players ahead of their knockout game, with Commissioner Willie Marcial set to come out with a ruling on Tuesday. At worst, the Road Warriors may end up playing without Erram and Varilla with their season on the line.
"That's something out of our hands, something out of control," said NLEX point guard Kiefer Ravena. "So far we just have to make sure of the things that we have right now."
"So far, kompleto pa naman, so other than that, we have to prepare for the worst, and you know, play on Wednesday without Poy and Paul, if that happens," he added.
No news is good news for NLEX at the moment, but Ravena says they have to be ready in case the league comes down hard on their players.
"It's something that we have to rise above," he said.
Erram is averaging 10 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game for NLEX in the conference, while Varilla contributes 3.4 points and 1.0 rebound per game.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao agrees that his team "need to be prepared," but he is also aking why Qualls escaped without even a foul during the incident.
Qualls had stepped on Varilla as he tried to break his fall during a drive to the hoop, with the NLEX player claiming the import did it deliberately -- something that Qualls vehemently denied. Erram responded by throwing an elbow, and the situation escalated. He and Qualls had to be separated as tempers flared.
"Nagtataka nga ako dahil sumuntok yung import nung kabila, walang consequence doon sa import eh," said Guiao.
"'Yung dalawa naming players ang ano, ang na-penalize. But their import actually swung his elbow when he drove to the basket on Paul Varilla," he pointed out. "S'yempre tutumba yung tao, tapos tinapakan niya nang sadya."
"I don’t know why the ref or the technical committee missed that."
Guiao is hopeful that the league will also review Qualls' actions.
"Ni hindi nga nawarningan yun pa lang technical eh. So I think kailangan balikan ng liga yun," he said.
For more sports stories, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.