Kevin Alas has missed the past three games for NLEX, including Game One of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals against third seed Magnolia.
The do-it-all combo guard has been dealing with a hamstring injury since July 9 when he hurt it during the Road Warriors’ match against Rain or Shine.
And in those three games, Matt Nieto stepped up to the plate. He himself also coming from a five-week off after straining his calf anew which he injured back then in the 2021 Governors’ Cup semifinals against Ginebra.
That caused him to sit out five weeks after only playing in NLEX’s opening game this conference against Terrafirma for merely six minutes.
Then, he was thrown into the fire right away after his recovery.
“Ready naman ako lagi. Sinigurado kong maganda naman ‘yung ipakita kong laro,” said Nieto after the Road Warriors dropped Game One versus the Hotshots, 98-89.
The Ateneo product tallied 12 points built on three triples to go with four assists, two rebounds, a steal, and a block in 33:10 of floor time.
But Nieto relieved the pressure off himself trying to make up for Alas and also Kris Rosales, who is still in the league’s health and safety protocol.
For him, it is only about playing right and good.
“Wala naman sa isip ko (‘yung pressure). Actually wala naman akong pakialam sa mga ganon alam niyo namang gagawin ‘yung trabaho ko,” said the Ateeno product, who was also a mainstay for Gilas for two years.
“Ili-lead ko ‘yung team kung saan mang tamang direksyon so there’s no pressure in that. Magkaiba naman kami ng laro ni Kuya Kevin eh.”
NLEX will fight for dear life in Game Two on Friday, 6 pm, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre, and for Nieto, he has no doubt they can rally back.
This as the team is expecting both Alas and Rosales to be back by next week – a much-needed reinforcement.
“We believe na mananalo sana kami kaso ‘yung circumstances na wala si Kuya Kevin, Kuya Kris tapos ako kababalik ko lang from a five-week break sa strained calf ko,” shared Nieto.
“For sure mas marami na kami. Babalik na sila so fresher legs on defense hindi na kami masyado mapapagod sa court,” he added, referring to their do-or-die game.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.