NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao was all praises for rookie Mike Ayonayon for stepping up in lieu of Kevin Alas during the Road Warriors’ heated 2020 PBA Philippine Cup meeting with TNT Tropang GIGA, Thursday night.
Alas had to rest a while in the third quarter as his nose bled following a collision with Tropang Giga star Jayson Castro late in the second quarter. But the Road Warriors hardly felt his absence thanks to the 27-year-old.
Ayonayon made the most out of the seven minutes and 52 seconds he was on the court during that particular period. He scored six points, helping NLEX retain its position in the driver’s seat.
“Si Kevin, medyo pinahinga ko muna dahil nagdugo ‘yung ilong [niya] nung halftime. So most of the time, Mike had to take care of the point guard position,” Guiao lauded.
“And he did it really well.”
The Road Warriors’ third pick in last year’s regular draft finished with eight points. And he was far from gun shy, as he took 10 shots and made four. The MPBL Datu Cup Finals MVP also had three rebounds and an assist in nearly 19 minutes of play.
NLEX won, 109-98, snapping TNT’s unbeaten run of five games.
Guiao no longer feels surprised with the ability and confidence of the Philippine Christian University product. And Ayonayon was more impressive for playing that way against no less than Jayson Castro.
“I was not surprised. I knew he had that ability,” the decorated mentor said.
“And to do that against Jayson Castro, I think it’s even more noteworthy, na alam niya napakagaling nung tumatao sa kanya pero he was just able to attack the basket and finish strong, and be able to lead the team in crucial sequences.”