PBA: Guiao 'cautiously optimistic' after NLEX's 4-0 start

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2021 02:43 PM

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. PBA Media Bureau.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is exercising "cautious optimism" after the Road Warriors matched their best start in franchise history last Saturday.

A 116-86 rout of the TerraFirma Dyip gave the Road Warriors a 4-0 record in the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup, matching their strong start in the 2017 edition of the conference when they were reinforced by Aaron Fuller.

"We're happy with our start," said Guiao, whose squad got another big game from American import KJ McDaniels (34 points, 4 rebounds), while Kevin Alas also continued to shine (20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists).

"I'm a little bit cautious," the coach added. "Medyo cautious optimism pa rin."

Guiao previously acknowledged that the Road Warriors have had a relatively favorable schedule, as they played two strong teams -- San Miguel and TNT Tropang GIGA -- early on in the conference, before either team played at peak strength.

However, he has also touted the strong play of McDaniels, who has emerged as an early front-runner for Best Import honors and is averaging 33.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game for the Road Warriors.

"I don't think the other teams are as ready as we all should be, so meron pang mga teams diyan na 'di pa masyado nakahanda. It's a good sign but at the same time, we don't want be looking at ourselves like we're in there and we're contending at this point," Guiao explained.

"We're just trying to get better every day, that's the mentality. We'll see if we can push this as far as we can," he added. "Let's see where it gets us. But maingat pa rin kami, ayaw namin mag-kumpiyansa."

In 2017, the Road Warriors failed to sustain their hot start, losing four of their last seven assignments and entering the playoffs as the fifth seed. They lost to Magnolia, then the Star Hotshots, in the quarterfinals.

NLEX will be tested on Christmas Day as they go up against a dangerous Phoenix Super LPG squad, which is coming off a heartbreaking 125-121 overtime defeat to Barangay Ginebra on Sunday.