Coming off a high last Sunday after picking up NLEX’s first-ever semifinals win, the young Road Warriors were quickly showed how a championship-caliber team bounces back two days later.
Even if they were undermanned, the battle-tested Magnolia Hotshots were able to bounce back, romping NLEX, 99-84, to even out the series.
A different NLEX showed up for this game as they struggled against the zone defense of the Magnolia Hotshots.
One of the players who struggled to adjust was super rookie Kiefer Ravena. After finishing with 16 points in Game 1, the 6-foot combo guard was limited to just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, while being forced to commit a team-high five turnovers.
“We started out pretty well and we just couldn’t match the energy of Magnolia towards the latter part of the first half,” admitted the second generation cager, as NLEX only held the lead for 1:42 minutes in the contest. “And coach Yeng [Guiao], the numerous battles, the numerous seven-game series he’s won and lost. Alam niya na kung paano laruin yung minuto ng mga tao niya.
“You know, sinasabi nga ni coach Jolas [Lastimosa] na there are certain games that we really have to be smart about and there was a certain game that we kind of played out of our system and Magnolia took advantage of that.”
Moreover, one of the players who epitomized the “next-game mentality” that the Road Warriors have been striving for was Paul Lee.
After scoring just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting to go along with five turnovers in Game 1, the seven-year veteran bounced back with a game-high 27 markers, while limiting his errors to just two.
“Paul just played awesome and the way he’s supposed to play. We just didn’t find any solution to that all throughout the game,” Ravena lamented.
“That’s tough, you know, they shot 50 percent from the field the whole game, that’s making every two baskets, nakaka-shoot ka ng isa palagi, dos or tres,” he admitted, as Magnolia shot 35-of-70 from the field.
Having seen what a high caliber team is like, Ravena and the Road Warriors vow to take this loss to heart.
“We have to step it up. We’ll learn from this, rest, forget about this and be ready on Wednesday.”