NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao chose to focus on the bright side of the Road Warriors' defeat to the Magnolia Hotshots in their quarterfinals clash in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Road Warriors were seconds away from marching to semifinals of the all-Filipino conference if not for the game-tying three-pointer from Paul Lee which sent the game to an extra period.
NLEX visibly lost steam during the overtime, allowing Jio Jalalon to spark the deciding run for Magnolia to claim the semis berth, 112-106.
If there was a silver lining to the painful defeat, it was their ability to go toe-to-toe against championship contending teams. Playing such squads in a pressure-packed environment will just make NLEX better according to Guiao.
“This makes us a better team. I feel this will go a long way in our development, being a tougher team, being a team that can match up against the top teams. Feeling ko yung Magnolia naman could win a championship eh. We’re up there,” said Guiao.
“If we had gotten just two good calls and made just two free throws, kasi yung kay Calvin (Oftana) na-miss niya, we could have been four points bago nai-shoot ni Paul yung tres niya,” rued the veteran mentor.
Guiao however refused to put the blame on Oftana and was in fact satisfied with how the sophomore forward played in the do-or-die game. Oftana dropped 32 points in 42 minutes of play.
“I could not ask anything more from Calvin. He played extended minutes, he was the topscorer of the game, he made big shots, he played both ends,” said Guiao who was made to work by the Hotshots in overtime with Jalalon attacking his defense to score all of his seven points in the overtime
“Siguro napagod na rin bandang huli kasi siya yung tumatao kay Jalalon, eh nalusutan siya dalawang beses yata on layups. May binato pang tsambang banda si Jalalon, of course kasama na sa mga breaks yun,” added Guiao.
NLEX now turns its focus on its preparations for the Commissioner’s Cup as it tries to find an import fit to the current composition of the team.