COACH Yeng Guiao is back from his national duties and is raring to handle NLEX anew.
NLEX, on the other hand, simply wants to get back on track following its 113-125 loss to San Miguel Beer last Sept. 1, when chief deputy Jojo Lastimosa was standing in for Guiao.
Rightfully so, even Blackwater coach Bong Ramos accurately predicted how eager Guiao is. "Coach Yeng is back to coach and for sure is very excited to mentor his players again," stated the former.
Guiao couldn't agree more. "I'm excited to get back to competitive coaching with NLEX after almost three months," said the tactician who handled the national team in the recent Asian Games and also steered Team Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
Where Guiao's enthusiasm and Ramos' wary approach would take them would be known when the Road Warriors and Elite collide Wednesday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A fifth straight victory by unbeaten Blackwater would not only extend the franchise's best-ever start and longest winning streak but also solidify its hold on the lead.
Whether he would be in for a rude welcome in his return is something that nags at Guiao. "(The) only problem is, we are facing the hottest team in the league right now," he said.
"Blackwater is for real. Preparation needs to be at your best if we are to avoid being their next victim."
The respect is mutual for Ramos. "Our game against NLEX is as important as all our games," he said.
"They are strong and have a lot of talented players."
Guiao's assessment stems mainly from Blackwater having claimed the scalps of defending champion Barangay Ginebra, powerhouse SMB. pre-tourney favorite TNT and full-strength NorthPort.
The likes of John Pinto, JP Erram, Mike Digregorio and Paul Zamar have stepped up big-time for Ramos, but the real key to the Elite, according to Guiao, is Henry Walker.
"Henry Walker has done a great job of leading this team to contention," noted Guiao.
"Their three-point shooting is a headache for all teams," added Guiao. "We have to lower their efficiency and prevent Walker from dictating the tempo. He makes those around him look better because he attracts a lot of attention."
Ramos also has one specific target in mind, notwithstanding the likes of Larry Fonacier, JR Quinahan and Mac Tallo expected to help NLEX's charge.
"They've got a good import in (Aaron) Fuller, who is averaging 35.5 points and 18.5 rebounds with 6.5 offensive rebounds and 12 defensive rebounds," said Ramos.
"We must limit him and box him out." (NC)