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PBA: NLEX ready against ‘big boys’

When the NLEX Road Warriors open their campaign in the 43rd PBA Season with the Philippine Cup, coach Yeng Guiao will have a roster capable of competing with the ‘big boys’ of the pro league.

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“We have a good mix young and veteran players we feel can contend this season, particularly this conference,” said Guiao Wednesday during the launching of a new team logo for the Road Warriors at the NLEX office at the Toll Center in Balintawak, Quezon City.

Last season when Guiao became NLEX’s coach, he got a team that made the quarterfinal playoffs five out of six conferences in two seasons under former coach Boyet Fernandez.

It took a while for Guiao to establish his system as the team finished with a 2-9 record in the PH Cup, forcing him to alter the lineup with the acquisition of center Rabah Al-Hussaini early in Commissioner’s Cup.

With another losing record in the second conference – as NLEX finished with another woeful 2-9 card – the team made another deal at the close of the tournament, obtaining sharpshooter Larry Fonacier and versatile center JR Quiñahan – both former Guiao players.

In the Governors’ Cup, the team landed another former Guiao starter in Cyrus Baguio.

The team did well in the season-ending conference as the Road Warriors made it back to the playoffs with a 7-4 record. The team lost to Star in the playoffs, but made a big splash in the off-season with the selection of Kiefer Ravena in the rookie draft.

“He’s a rookie but he’s playing like a veteran. Kiefer is a smart player and he’s adjusting well to the system of coach Yeng and also to the brand of play in the PBA,” said Fonacier.

Rod Franco, CEO and president of Metro Pacific and Tollways Corporation (MPTC), said that with the new logo of NLEX, he is expecting the team to do well in the Philippine Cup.

“I think we have a good chance this coming conference, remember that we played well last conference, during the Governors’ Cup. We have a very good roster, and we added Kiefer,” said Franco.

The team will open its campaign against Kia on Dec. 20 at The San Juan Arena and will meet GlobalPort on Christmas Day at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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Written by Waylon Galvez

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