Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
NLEX may be a young team but semifinal experience will boost their confidence
Losing in the semifinals in your first appearance may be as painful as Kevin Alas' injury but in the long run, the NLEX Road Warriors will benefit from this setback.
Sure, the NLEX Road Warriors are still feeling the pain of being two wins away from a potential Finals berth after losing the last two games of their semifinal series against the Magnolia Hotshots who sealed the deal with a 96-89 win in Game 6. To begin with, the Road Warriors were already down one player with Kevin Alas missing the rest of the season after getting injured 39 seconds into Game 5. Add JR Quinahan's ejection in Game 6 and the Road Warriors lost one of their playoff veterans who actually made it to the PBA Finals and won a championship under Yeng Guiao with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Despite the adversaries that hit them in Game 6, the Road Warriors came close in forcing a Game 7 as they came within 2 points, at 91-89 approaching the final 2-minute mark of Game 6 only to be killed by costly turnovers from Kiefer Ravena and Larry Fornacier- turnovers which Yeng Guiao lamented owing to the fact that NLEX could have battled it out until the final possession. But then, Yeng Guiao eventually admitted that it was just the way things worked out.
Despite the disappointing loss at the hands of the much-experienced Magnolia who will enter the Finals for the first time in 4 years, Yeng Guiao has many things to be proud of. For one, they got one of the best rookies in PBA history in Kiefer Ravena who came into the league exactly as good as he was advertised. The fiery coach also noted that the Road Warriors have improved significantly even stating the fact that despite being undermanned, NLEX continued to fight until the end.
While his squad is still licking the injury of defeat, Yeng Guiao is still filled with confidence and optimism in saying that his players will eventually learn from this setback and grow to be better and more confident players come the Commissioner's Cup and beyond.
Despite being filled with veterans such as Asi Taulava, Larry Fornacier, JR Quinahan and Cyrus Baguio who have already won multiple championships in the past, the NLEX Road Warriors is still a relatively young team with a core that includes Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas and Michael Miranda. But once they transform themselves like one of Yeng Guiao's champion teams in the past, NLEX should be a force to be reckoned with in the future.