With veteran coach Yeng Guiao on board, team owner Manny V. Pangilinan expects NLEX to accomplish new heights, similar to what Meralco has done in making its first ever finals stint in the PBA.
“We expect them to be following Meralco’s footsteps I guess,” said Pangilinan after Guiao signed a deal to be the bench tactician of the Road Warriors early this week following a six-year stint with Rain or Shine.
NLEX will be entering its third season in the PBA after joining the pro league in 2014 following the sale of the existing franchise of Air21 with head coach Boyet Fernandez calling the shots.
The team was able to reach the quarterfinal round in five of its first six conferences, although it failed to go beyond.
In last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, the team finished in the top four, but despite a twice-to-beat incentive the Road Warriors lost to the Bolts.
In this season’s Governors’ Cup, the team fell short of forcing a do-or-die in the quarterfinals as it suffered a 114-110 defeat to San Miguel Beer. The team will select No. 8 overall in the first round of the PBA Rookie Draft set October 30.
Pangilinan said Guiao is the perfect coach for NLEX, as his experience and leadership would be crucial in developing the team into a title contender.
“I’m happy for NLEX, I think it’s a perfect fit between him (Guiao) and NLEX,” said Pangilinan.
“There’s a strong identification of the toll ways with Pampanga (where Guiao once served as vice governor and District 1 congressman), I think that’s partly the reason why he entertained the notion of joining NLEX.”
“We’re happy that he’s with us,” added Pangilinan.
NLEX is Guiao’s fifth squad in the PBA, having coached Swift, Red Bull, Air21 and Rain or Shine. He ranks sixth in the all-time champion coaches with seven titles, winning two with Swift, three with Red Bull and two with ROS.
Guiao will take over the NLEX team that has a young core of Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete and Glenn Khobuntin, as well as veterans Asi Taulava, Sean Anthony, Jonas Villanueva, Mac Baracael and Rico Villanueva.