Nov 26, 2019

Road Warriors need to step up defensively to avoid another disaster

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said the Road Warriors should bring back the old fire that's made them the top-seeded team of the PBA Governors' Cup if they want to survive their tough quarterfinal matchup with No. 8 NorthPort.

Guiao's wards failed to cash in on their win-once bonus, dropping a 90-115 setback to the Batang Pier Monday night that forced them to a do-or-die for a semis seat on Wednesday. It was essentially the same story in their previous elims ecnounter, where the tenacious the Batang Pier ended up victorious, 102-94.

"We need to get back our intensity, from the start kasi ano kami out-energized kami, masyadong kitang-kita yung intensity nila from the very beginning; hindi namin mahabol, hindi mapantayan yung energy na yun and it happened twice already," said Guiao after emerging from a lengthy meeting with his staff following the loss.

That the effective import Manny Harris wasn't his usual self didn't help NLEX cause.

"It's the worst game of our import today," said Guiao of Harris, who struggled with 12 points on a 5-of-18 shooting and was outplayed by Michael Qualis (39-15-5).

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"But i don't think he's going to have a game as bad as that so we're hoping he can bounce back the next game," said Guiao.

Not just Harris, actually, but the entire NLEX side, whose playoff inexperience and immaturity seem to drag them.

"We have a big problem actually in terms of resolving our (shortage in) intensiy, our aggressiveness, keeping up with them in that aspect. And offensively also, we had 16 assists - our lowest assist numbers in all the games we played.

"Maybe it's also the frustrations setting in because maaga kaming nalalamangan and frustration sets in, and we get off our usual game, our gameplan. It's still a maturity problem; we need to be a little but more mature in the big games, the important games and control our frustrations and get back to what we usually do; kapag napu-frustrate kami, nawawala na kami doon sa sistema," he rued.

NLEX not only lost the game but also saw the status of Poy Erram and Paul Varilla for the KO duel in jeopardy. Erram and Varilla were both slapped with disqualifying fouls for hitting NorthPort import Michael Qualls in the fourth quarter and face possible sanctions.

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"I'm not sure about that but either way, we need to be prepared," said Guiao, who also asked for a review on Qualls' alleged intentional stepping on Varilla's stomach that started the commotion.

NLEX had one day to devise a plan against its conference tormentor NorthPort and salvage a semis berth.

"NorthPort has been playing well and shooting really well the last two games and if we do not step up defensively, the same thing could happen (in Wednesday's rubbermatch)," said Guiao. (OL)