By JONAS TERRADO
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao admitted that the absence of Kiefer Ravena had a huge effect during his team’s three-game losing streak that came to an end Thursday with a lopsided victory over Blackwater.
Guiao said Ravena’s role of being a take-charge guy was sorely missed during last week’s defeats, most notably against Magnolia Pambansang Manok when it squandered a 16-point lead before bowing in double overtime.
The Road Warriors’ other losses came against the TNT Tropang Giga and NorthPort Batang Pier before ending the dry spell with a 90-73 romp of the winless Bossing.
“Pag close matches, you need a go-to-guy, you need somebody who will make decisions with the ball, you need somebody who will set your play up for him, for that person. Dun namin namimiss,” Guiao said after NLEX improved to 5-5 with a game left in the eliminations.
Ravena was forced to miss the restart in Bacolor, Pampanga after leaving for Japan to fix necessary requirements for his upcoming stint with the Shiga Lakestars of the B.League.
There’s still no timetable if Ravena will don the NLEX jersey, though Guiao maintained that his prized guard could be available if the team makes a deep playoff run.
For now, Guiao kept urging his players to pick up the slack, as seen against Blackwater with the likes of role players Philip Paniamogan and Kenneth Ighalo scoring in double figures.
Paniamogan dropped a conference-high 14 points and had a +/- rating of 27, meaning that NLEX outscored Blackwater by 27 when he’s on the floor, while Ighalo added 12.
“Sabi ko nga parang naputulan kami ng kanang kamay, pero we just need to grow a right hand back, or find a way to manage,” said Guiao. “Wala naman kaming magagawa e, ganun talaga.
“So we just have to accept, we just have to find ways to compensate for that.”