FROM a dismal 2-9 slate last Commissioner’s Cup, the NLEX Road Warriors have improved on their campaign this PBA Governors’ Cup — posting a 5-7 win-loss record in the eliminations.
After going on an impressive 4-2 record in their first six games, the Road Warriors had their share of struggles after going only 1-4 in their final five assignments.
The team clung on to the final playoff spot only to get kicked out of the playoff picture abruptly by the defending champs in the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
Today, FOX Sports Philippines takes a look on the Road Warriors and how they’ve fared overall in this year’s iteration of the Governors’ Cup.
It’s safe to say that the Road Warriors’ coaching staff were effective in emphasizing more team play, as they were fifth overall in fastbreak points per game (14.9), third overall in assists per game (26.3), and first overall in bench points per game (42.5). Shooting numbers across the board were also okay for NLEX as they were fifth overall in free throw percentage (70%) and sixth overall in field goal shooting at (44%).
Majority of NLEX’s wins were blowouts as they were averaging a winning margin of 13.0 points per game, notching a staggering scoring average of 116.4 markers per game. However, four out of the five teams mentioned were non-playoff teams — at least for this conference.
On the other hand, in their losses, the Yeng Guiao-mentored squad were only able to muster up a scoring average of only 93.4 points per game, with an average losing deficit of -15.8 points per game.
Reinforcements have never been a problem for the MVP-backed squad as standouts like Olu Ashaolu and Aaron Fuller have done everything they can to contribute.
Nigerian-Canadian Olu Ashaolu, despite playing with an injured leg, churned out norms of 27.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game, but he was turnover-prone averaging 4.7 of those per contest. After playing for three games, Ashaolu was eventually sent back home in order for him to fully recover.
Meanwhile, resident import Aaron Fuller has filled in seamlessly for the ailing Ashaolu, as he tallied averages of 31.9 points, 17.1 rebounds, and 4.8 points per game. If it weren’t for his efforts, NLEX would most likely falter earlier than expected.
But the real problem lies within the production of their locals as only Larry Fonacier was able to average double-digits points (12.9) per contest. Ighalo, Quinahan, and Galanza were the next men up scoring averages of 8.7, 8.6, and 7.7 respectively. The teams needs to draw out more from them, especially since they’ll have no imports in the upcoming All-Filipino Cup.
Looking forward, what can we expect from NLEX?
Since the absence of super rookie Kiefer Ravena, the NLEX Road Warriors have done fairly well, especially in this year’s Governors’ Cup. A few breaks here and there could’ve put them in a much better seeding in the playoffs, but a fork on the road has brought them to the hands of Ginebra.
Nonetheless, head coach Yeng Guiao and the rest of the fans would have to feel upbeat, especially with the emergence of their young midseason pickups in Bong Galanza, Philip Paniamogan, and Mac Tallo. If you put guys like Alex Mallari and Kevin Alas in the mix, their backcourt would definitely be formidable.
On the flip side, they would have to address their relatively thin frontcourt — especially with only guys like Miranda, Quinahan, and Taulava in the fold. Poised to possibly have the fifth pick in the upcoming PBA Draft, for sure they wouldn’t go wrong in tapping the services of standouts like Lawrence Domingo or Abu Tratter.
(Image from PBA)