DEFENDING champion N-LEX is wary about the effects of the long break on his team going to the semifinals of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
The Road Warriors have not played competitive basketball since wrapping up their elimination round campaign last December 20 and won’t return to court until February 7 - or 49 days of inactivity.
The three-time defending champion’s schedule in the eliminations was played in advance to allow Garvo Lanete, Greg Slaughter, RR Garcia, Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual, and Matthew Ganuelas to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in two international tournaments in Dubai and Hong Kong, respectively.
“We have not been complete for the past one month," NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said. "I’m really worried how we are going to play in the playoffs."
“As of now, only six regulars (ang nagpa-practice). ‘Yung isa namin is a reserve (Russel Escoto) and three practice players. Sampu, pero hindi pa rin kumpleto,” said Fernandez.
NLEX's players who are members of the Gilas cadet pool only returned to the country on Sunday.
“I’m hoping that there will be an extension in the playoffs. If not, we have to work double time,” said Fernandez.
The NLEX coach also noted that teams have improved since NLEX took a break, pointing to Jose Rizal University and Big Chill as the ones likely to pose a big threat in the playoffs.
Still, the Road Warriors mentor is hopeful the national players' familiarity with NLEX’s system, which is anchored on the same dribble-drive system that Gilas coach Chot Reyes runs, will be of big help once they rejoin the team in practice and prepare for the semifinals.
“Come to think of it, we run the dribble drive offense but not as extensive as coach Chot. Andyan na ‘yan,” said Fernandez.