PBA: NLEX played San Miguel at best possible time, says Guiao

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2021 02:13 PM

NLEX import KJ McDaniels (32) attacks the San Miguel defense in their PBA Governors' Cup game. PBA Media Bureau.
NLEX import KJ McDaniels (32) attacks the San Miguel defense in their PBA Governors' Cup game. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao believes they caught a break in playing the San Miguel Beermen early in the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup.

The Road Warriors on Wednesday overcame a slow start to eventually rout San Miguel, 114-102, for a winning start to the league's season-ending conference. It was the first game of the Governors' Cup for both teams.

"This is probably the best time to play San Miguel," Guiao told reporters after the game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

"They haven't fully jelled yet. I feel like they're still making adjustments," he pointed out.

NLEX played a San Miguel team that went through a massive upheaval in between conferences. The Beermen traded away two members of their core last month, sending Arwind Santos to NorthPort in exchange for Vic Manuel, and Alex Cabagnot to TerraFirma for Simon Enciso.

Enciso started on Wednesday, scoring two points, while Manuel came off the bench to score 17 points and grab seven rebounds.

The Beermen were led by import Brandon Brown, who had 36 points and 13 rebounds. However, he also committed seven turnovers and cooled down in the second half after a blazing start to the game. 

"Malaking bagay si Arwind, nawala sa kanila. Malaking bagay si Alex Cabagnot, wala din sa kanila. And then Chris Ross is not with them," Guiao said. 

"So, we're very lucky to play them in this situation. Naga-adjust pa ang team na 'to," he added. "But they've always been championship contenders, and they can only get better. So we're lucky to play them in the first game."

Guiao was also full of praise for his team, which crawled out of an 11-point hole in the second quarter and outplayed San Miguel the rest of the way. They led by 19 points, 107-88, midway through the fourth quarter.

It was an impressive outing for an NLEX squad that is missing key cogs including big men Raul Soyud and Kris Porter who were both crucial in their run to the playoffs last Philippine Cup.

"We're just working hard in practice. I think we picked up some really good guys. We picked up Kris Rosales, who contributed big in this game, and also Marion Magat. They played big in this game, they made some really important contributions," Guio noted.

Rosales had nine points and three assists, and Magat made four of five shots for eight points along with three rebounds. Six NLEX players scored in double-digits, led by import KJ McDaniels with 27 markers.

"I think that's part of it... The guys we picked up from the trades and free agency, they just blended well with the team, and everybody's just happy, happy with each other, with the chemistry and the camaraderie in the team," Guiao said.

NLEX is back in action on Friday against the NorthPort Batang Pier, which lost to Alaska in its first game.