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The process continues for Yeng Guiao, NLEX

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First-year NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao did not hide his displeasure over the Road Warriors’ quarterfinal loss to the Star Hotshots on Tuesday night — the loss that put an end to their Cinderella run in the 2017 Governor’s Cup.

“We had actually expected a little bit more,” rued the multi-titled mentor after their 77-89 loss at the Mall of Asia Arena. “We were playing so well early in the elimination round. Siyempre tataas yung expectation mo.

“I guess the reason why we’re disappointed is because our expectations were propped up by our limited success… It’s disappointing.”

Hopes suddenly rocketed for the Road Warriors after they ended the elimination phase as the fifth seed with a 7-4 card — an improvement from the past two conferences, where they had amassed a dismal 4-18 win-loss record.

But then again, the crushing loss to the now-semis-bound Star meant it was all in vain.

“We are really saddened actually by the turn of events. But in situations like this, you always have to look at the positive side,” shared Guiao, who took over NLEX’s coaching reins before the start of the 2016-2017 season.

“It’s an improvement from our first two conferences.”

And among those silver linings the veteran coach mentioned is their good position in the upcoming Rookie Draft, which will take place in October.2017-SEA-Games---Men's-Basketball---Kiefer-Ravena

“I guess we will probably draft second place with the situation,” said the coach, who has been vocal about drafting either Christian Standhardinger or Kiefer Ravena. “Maybe if we would’ve made the next round, we might drop all the way to number three.

“So siguro that’s the silver lining.”

NLEX obviously revamped this season, and the franchise does not have any plans of stopping just yet. Surely, the Road Warriors’ off-season — from the Rookie Draft to free agency and to exploring trade deals — will remain busy.

“So now, we’re looking forward to building up from the draft and from opportunities with trades, maybe in the free agency. We will keep on looking at our pieces and try to put together a team that can contend at the highest level,” shared the two-time coach of the year.

“This is an improvement, but we’re not only looking to just improve. We’re looking to contend with the big boys.”

But Guiao knows that this process, no matter how gratifying it will be in the end, will always be a painful one.

“You just have to go through the pains eh,” said the seven-time champion coach.

“It’s like childbirth – bago mo mailabas yung bata, talagang masakit muna ang dadaanan niyo, and I’m seeing some very good signs looking into the future.”

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Gilas still sticking with Andray Blatche, says team manager Butch Antonio

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It will still be Andray Blatche

Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio made it clear that naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche will be back for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on February.

Blatche has yet to attend Gilas practices due to his commitment with Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, but Antonio said that they have already reached out to the said league for his temporary release.

“We have already made communication. We sent a letter already,” said the executive after Gilas’ practice Monday. “Kasi that’s the protocol now eh… You have to write a letter to the team through the CBA and you will just have to wait for their reply.”

It is still uncertain if and when the Flying Tigers will lend the naturalized center to Gilas, who will face Australia and Japan on February 22 and 25, respectively. But Antonio is confident that the ball club will let the former NBA cager go.

“More often than not naman they’ll release him. It’s just a matter of when.

“In our letter we identified pretty much when we start our daily practice, when we hopefully want to have him in, when we plan to leave for Australia and when he comes back and when he gets back to his mother team in China,” said Antonio.

It also helps knowing that the CBA will be on a break during the second window of the Asian Qualifiers next month, as all the teams will be preparing for the league’s playoffs that time.

Antonio also allayed fears that Blatche is hurt while in China. Those speculations rose early this January as Blatche has only played in five games for Xinjiang so far.

“No, we were in touch with his agent, parang okay naman siya,” said the long-time Gilas official. “I think he has healed. The last time he played he was coming from that hamstring injury but I have not followed it because we’re busy.

“But I think he’s been playing in the CBA pretty well. And his team has been winning. So that’s good for us.”

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Jong Uichico calls for pool players to be complete as Gilas brace for Aussies

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Cause for concern?

In their second session for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, only nine of the 15 Gilas pool players actively participated.

June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar were in uniform while Roger Pogoy watched on the sidelines. Jayson Castro and Mac Belo were not present while Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend a session. 23 for 2023 cadets CJ Perez and Abu Tratter were called to duty to give the team added bodies.

The session ended earlier than usual, only practicing for around 45 minutes.

“Light lang naman. Some players had games last night,” said assistant coach Uichico, who together with Josh Reyes handled the night’s session. “Light lang pero we emphasized on some things in today’s practice, it’s more mental and a little bit of execution. “

With Gilas’ game against the 10th ranked Australia just 34 days away, Uichico expressed his concern that the Nationals won’t be as cohesive as they want it to be.

“It’s always a concern naman. We prefer once a week na lang naman, di pa tayo makumpleto,” expressed Uichico,

“We prefer really na makumpleto whether they practice or not, at least nandyan sila nanonood kung anong nangyayari.

“So mas mabilis yung pagtuto, especially if we put something new, at least nakikita nila kahit hindi nila naeexecute. We prefer and it’s really mandatory na nandito sila every Monday,” the mentor of the 2017 SEA Games team furthered.

Due to this, the staff of the team has yet to formulate a gameplan for the Aussies. A win against either the Boomers or Japan will automatically qualify Gilas to the next stage of the qualifiers.

“I don’t know. Our first plan is to practice everyday and then see if we can get the team complete as soon as possible.”

But as Gilas has proven time and time again, the multi-time PBA champion coach believes that they will overcome once more.

“There’s always challenges naman, especially the situation that we’re in. The PBA’s ongoing and we try to practice,” the soft-spoken tactician shared.

“There will always be challenges but every problem or challenge can be solved naman.”

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Willie Marcial hints at possibility of PBA lending unlimited players to Gilas

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Current PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial was a surprise spectator Monday night at the Meralco Gym, as Gilas Pilipinas resumed its’ preparations for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi ako bisita.

“Magkakasama tayo nung araw pa,” quipped the amiable official.

Marcial’s visit speaks volumes of the PBA’s commitment to the Gilas program even if the pro league is in the midst of recovering from a lengthy impasse late in 2017, where a power struggle in the PBA’s board room took place.

“Ang PBA 100 percent susuportahan yung Gilas. Maniwala kayo. Talagang all out ang PBA diyan,” said the league’s former media bureau chief.

And coming along with that all-out support he had affirmed is the possibility of abolishing the one-player-per-team rule in loaning players to the National Team. That ruling has seemingly limited Gilas in building the best team possible.

“Baka magulat kayo biglang mag-propose sila wala nang limit ang players ‘pag kumuha. Puwedeng mangyari yun.”

When asked if he will be a regular fixture in Gilas practices in the coming weeks, Marcial said that it would be strongly possible, barring any meetings in the league’s office that require his full attention.

“Nako, sinabi ko sa kanila pipilitin ko every Monday nandito ako,” said Marcial, a favorite to become the next PBA commissioner. “Pupunta ako rito every Monday, basta wala lang mga meeting talagang pupuntahan ko sila.

“Tingnan niyo, masaya kami, parang magkakabarkada diba? Sabi ko sa kanila walang problema.”

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June Mar Fajardo returns to Gilas practice

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With just 37 days left before the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, four-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo suited up during the second session of SMART Gilas Pilipinas.

Fajardo was absent during the team’s first practice as he battled the classic case of a flu.

Joining Fajardo were Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar. Roger Pogoy was also in attendance, but was in street clothes.

Not present were Mac Belo and Jayson Castro. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan were also absent for the second straight week.

For the 23 for 2023 cadets, only two were invited for the night’s session.

Reigning NCAA Seniors Basketball MVP CJ Perez was present together with Marinerong Pilipino big man Abu Tratter.

The practice was supervised by assistant coaches Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes. Coach Chot Reyes is currently in Japan.

The PBA’s officer-in-charge Willie Marcial watched on the sidelines.

The Philippines will face Australia at the Margaret Court Arena on February 22. Three days later, the country will host Japan at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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