"Magnolia is maturing as a team. Paul (Lee) is always a problem when he's healthy. Throw in (Ian) Sangalang who is playing his best basketball in his career. Our defense must work overtime to minimize their effect on the result of the game," said Guiao.
IN a duel between two fast-maturing teams, mental toughness and execution on both ends of the court could be the key on the result of the game.
Coaches Yeng Guiao and Chito Victolero both have this in mind ahead of their match in the PBA Philippine Cup at 6:45 p.m. Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Both NLEX and Magnolia affected changes in their line-up last season. And they are now seeing progress in their overhaul.
No wonder, both are wary of one another.
"We cannot give up too many extra possessions like we did in our last game. We must also rebound better than we did the last time," Guiao added.
"We need to have mental toughness for this game for 48 minutes. We expect a very physical game from start to finish so we need to control our emotions and focus on our execution," said Victolero.
It's tipped to be a dogfight with the winner breaking free from a heavy logjam at second place at 2-1.
Magnolia is coming off a 124-77 thrashing of Kia - the most lopsided game in the season thus far. NLEX, meanwhile, has just suffered a first loss at the hands of Phoenix after starting the season with back-to-back triumphs versus Kia and GlobalPort.
Going on a beast mode in the second half, the Hotshots added to the woes of the Kia Picanto whom they sent reeling to a 15th straight loss - the longest slump in the PBA in the last decade.
Justin Melton top scored with 23 points, Sangalang added 21 while Lee, Robert Herndon, PJ Simon and Jio Jalalon chipped in at least 11 each for the Hotshots who denied new Kia coach Ricky Dandan a triumphant PBA debut.
The Magnolia backcourt, however, is now up for an exciting duel with NLEX's own solid guard rotation in Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Juami Tiongson and Emman Monfort.
Ravena, for one, is determined to make up for lackadaisical showing the last time.
Clipped the last time out, Ravena was disappointed but not disheartened.
"It happens," said Ravena, ruing his struggle that didn't help the NLEX Road Warriors as they went down to a 95-102 loss to the Fuel Masters.
"After two straight wins, we lost. It's time to bounce back," said Ravena, ready to put behind him his poor eight-point game against the Fuel Masters.
The No. 2 draft selection, sensational in his first two games, acknowledged the tougher effort dished out by his Gilas teammate Matthew Wright and the rest of the Phoenix team.
"It's partly their defense but it's something we could've avoided. Pero talo kami sa effort," said Ravena.
It's not lost on the NLEX coach who mentioned the 19-10 advantage of Phoenix on offensive rebounds.
"That's almost 100 hundred percent difference. Offensive rebounding numbers were not really the fault of Kiefer alone. It's a team thing and we have to take responsibility for that as a team," said Guiao, taking the heat off Ravena who was 4-of-13 from the field, 0-of-2 from the stripe and committed two turnovers in their loss. (SB)