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NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao is not giving up on his team’s bid to make it to the quarterfinal round of the PBA Philippine Cup although his team is mired in a tie for last place with just one win in six games.
After a victorious debut last Nov. 25 against Alaska in overtime (99-97), NLEX lost its next five assignments.
But with five games left to play starting with a matchup against TNT Ka Tropa this Saturday in Angeles City, Guiao said the chance is there although admittedly it is slim.
“At 5-6 (win-loss), if we win all our remaining games, I think you’ll get to play in the quarterfinals. At four wins, it might not or probably you’ll go through the playoff game for the last spot,” said Guiao yesterday.
“So for us it’s survival. Less wins than that (four or five) we’ll not going to make it. But as long as there is hope, we’ll fight it out. The more games we play the better for us. It’s only by playing together that we’ll improve as a team. We can’t gain that by just practicing,” said Guiao who is in his first season as coach of NLEX after a six-year stint at Rain or Shine.
Only the top eight teams will advance after the elimination round with the top two earning twice-to-beat bonus versus the seventh and eighth qualifiers, with the third to sixth teams playing in a crossover best-of-three series.
The last four teams after the eliminations will be ousted automatically.
The good news for NLEX is that key players are returning to action after missing games due to injuries, including veteran center Rico Villanueva (MCL), Garvo Lenete (sprained ankle) and Eric Camson (knee).
“Rico is playable by Saturday, Garvo is playable, also si Eric Camson. Raul Soyud (knee) needs a few more days to rest. But the return of these huts, that’s good news for us,” said Guiao, who has won seven titles, including two with Rain or Shine.
Guiao left the Elasto Painters after six years to help NLEX in its bid to become a title contender.
“Time is important to us. It’s a new system, so players really need time to really absorb the new culture. Everyday that goes by, we know that each other will get better. We’re also changing the mentality of the team and we’re in that process,” said Guiao.
“On that aspect, it’s more unpredictable – the mentality. Hindi naman agad-gad mangyayari ‘yun. Basta ang importante, magkakasama lang kami, okay kami,” added Guiao, whose team will also face GlobalPort on Jan.13, Phoenix Fuel of Jan. 18, Mahindra on Jan. 27, and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Jan. 29.