by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – San Miguel vs Meralco
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs TNT KaTropa
NLEX is hoping that the strong finish to a dismal Commissioner’s Cup campaign will translate in an improved showing in the PBA Governors’ Cup which starts in September.
The Road Warriors ended with the league’s worst record at 3-8 but were able to win two of their final three games to gain some momentum before the season-ending conference.
Making things better is the return of Kiefer Ravena from a 15-month FIBA suspension while Kevin Alas plans to come back during the eliminations after re-injuring his right ACL in the Philippine Cup last February.
Jericho Cruz has proven to be a nice addition for coach Yeng Guiao after averaging 11.0 points and 7.0 assists since being traded from TNT KaTropa last month.
That is why import Olu Ashaolu sees no reason why the Road Warriors can’t improve.
“I think there’s no excuse for us not to be competitive next conference,” Ashaolu said after the Road Warriors’ 87-85 win over the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters last Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Ashaolu also bring a positive outlook for NLEX after posting 24.7 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the final three games of the eliminations.
The Nigerian-Canadian was brought in early by Guiao to prepare him for the Governors’ Cup.
He is determined to have a longer stint in the Governors’ Cup after his campaign in the same conference last season was cut short due to a knee injury.
NLEX is also banking on Poy Erram to make up for his inconsistent performance while the return of Ravena and potentially Alas could lessen the burden given to role players Kenneth Ighalo, Bong Galanza and Philip Paniamogan.
Guiao has given his players a short break before he calls them back to practice before the end of the month to begin preparation for the Governors’ Cup.