By JONAS TERRADO
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao gave his team a satisfactory mark despite the team’s failure to get past the quarterfinal round in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Road Warriors’ campaign in Bacolor, Pampanga ended last week when they fell short of completing an upset of the Meralco Bolts, but Guiao saw his players raise their games especially after losing Kiefer Ravena midway to the conference.
Ravena played the first four games but left for Japan before the restart to process requirements for his B.League stint with the Shiga Lakestars. NLEX and the PBA eventually allowed the talented guard to proceed with his Lakestars campaign.
“Losing Kiefer Ravena midway the elimination round all the way to our playoffs campaign was tough. It’s something we didn’t prepare for,” said Guiao said in the NLEX’s official website ArangkadaNLEX.com.
“But I consider our campaign as decent tough and we were able to push Meralco, which is considered one of the dark horse teams in the tournament, and has a legitimate chance of making it to the championship round or even winning the title, on the brink, and to me, that’s something we can also be proud of.”
Guiao sang praises for the core of his lineup, including Don Trollano, Tony Semerad and rookie Calvin Oftana.
Trollano produced six games of double figures in scoring and average 10.6 points for the conference while Semerad has become a player capable of producing baskets while also playing defense.
But perhaps the most important progress for NLEX is Oftana, the third overall pick of the draft whose offense picked up starting late in the conference highlighted by a 34-point effort against Meralco in the final match of the elims.
Oftana also scored the game-winning layup that enabled seventh seed NLEX to push twice-to-beat Meralco to a knockout match in the quarters.
“We were able to get the contributions we needed from JR Quiñahan, Jericho Cruz, Kevin Alas. We’ve seen some good games, too, from Don Trollano, Philip Paniamogan, Mike Miranda, Raul Soyud, and even Kris Porter, before he got injured,” said Guiao.
“Lately, we’ve seen breakout performances from Anthony Semerad, who has become more of a two-way player now, and our rookie Calvin Oftana. We’re hoping we can build up from this experience. We’re going to lose Kiefer for the next conference, but at least we can prepare more for that, this time.”