NLEX was dealt the toughest loss in the franchise’s eight-year history on Sunday evening.
Figuring in a win-or-go-home game against corporate rival Magnolia, the Road Warriors were just 11 seconds away from punching a semifinals ticket.
However, disaster struck.
Yeng Guiao’s former pupil in Paul Lee drained a trey that tied things up at 97-all. In the next possession, Calvin Oftana got caught by Jio Jalalon resulting into a turnover and, eventually, overtime.
“I could not ask anything more from Calvin,” said Guiao about the sophomore out of San Beda, who finished the game with 32 points on 21 shots in 42 minutes of action. “He played extended minutes, he was the topscorer of the game, he made big shots, he played both ends.
“Siguro napagod na rin bandang huli kasi siya yung tumatao kay Jalalon, eh nalusutan siya dalawang beses yata on layups. May binato pang tsambang banda si Jalalon, of course kasama na sa mga breaks yun.”
The breaks though could not come in favor for the Road Warriors in what ended up as the last five minutes of their 2022 PBA Philippine Cup campaign, falling 112-106.
Again, the toughest loss in the franchise’s history.
Not getting the breaks though has been the theme of the series though according to the four-time champion coach.
“First, we’re proud of our effort but we lost on the breaks.
“We feel na it could have gone either way, breaks lang talaga. The usual theme in the series is we could not get the calls from the refs. We feel maraming na-miss na call in our favor dapat. But of course, dadahilan sila roon, hindi naman nila tinatanggap yung mga ganoon eh,” rued Guiao as the first two games of the series were essentially routs.
For the next month, NLEX will be re-grouping.
First order of business is to find a strong import that will reinforce the Road Warriors. Secondly, and more importantly, Guiao hopes that his boys will use this time to reflect on what went wrong and what needs to be done moving forward.
“This makes us a better team.
“I feel this will go a long way in our development, being a tougher team, being a team that can match up against the top teams. Feeling ko yung Magnolia naman could win a championship eh. We’re up there. If we had gotten just two good calls and made just two free throws, kasi yung kay Calvin na-miss niya yung ano, we could have been four points bago nai-shoot ni Paul yung tres niya,” he said.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.