Jan 24, 2023

NLEX playing all-Filipino, but Vanguardia, Blackwater not taking opponent lightly

IN One of the rare times since Ariel Vanguardia came in to coach Blackwater, he would be having a nearly-full complement of players at his disposal.

Vanguardia and the Bossing indeed need to have every hand on deck when they do battle with an NLEX side which may be offering a big surprise Wednesday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Road Warriors are reportedly set to bring in a new import after problems with original choice Jonathon Simmons.

The former NBA campaigner is said to be having problems getting clearance from his former team in China while NLEX coach Frankie Lim bared that Simmons has a more lucrative offer to return to the CBA.

"Meron siyang offer sa China so ang sabi ko, 'Sige lumarga ka, hanap na lang kami ng iba. Baka hindi na lumaro sa Wednesday," said Lim, adding it is team manager who is working on finding a replacement. "Basta we'll just try and gawan ng paraan."

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As of this posting, there is still no word from the NLEX camp on whether it would play import-less, since the team has not yet informed the league of any change as of the Tuesday noon deadline, or still go with Simmons, provided he has the required clearance.

Vanguardia said his main gameplan remains the same, no matter who NLEX's reinforcement would be. "Ganu'n pa rin, try and contain their import kahit sino pa siya," he stated.

"Isa pang key, may mga bago silang players so hindi pa namin alam kung ano impact nila pagpasok sa bago nilang team," added Vanguardia, referring to Sean Anthony and Jake Pascual who were acquired for Justin Chua and Paul Varilla just last week.

One thing that boosts Vanguardia's optimism is the fact most of his players who suffered or nursed injuries in the last Commissioner's Cup are now all healthy.

"Maglalaro na finally si Baser (Amer), Jayvee (Casio), (Joshua) Torralba and then soon, probably next week, laro na rin si Troy (Rosario)," bared Vanguardia. "Kaya this conference, 'All-in!' ang battlecry namin."

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For sure, crucial would be the role of balik-import Shawn Glover in the Bossing's bid to bounce back strong from a 3-9 record and a 12th place finish in the last conference.

Glover is best remembered for coming in to replace Jaylen Bond and helping Blackwater snap out of a league-worst 29-game losing skid in the 2021 edition of the same tournament and known for his blue-collar work ethics.

"Silent operator, di mo namamalayan maganda na pala production niya," said Vanguardia of the former Oral Roberts standout. (NC)