WITH its line-up decimated up front, NLEX is still hoping that it can still find a suitable replacement for Ian Sangalang and Greg Slaughter for the PBA D-League Foundation Cup campaign.
The four-time defending champion Road Warriors are in their worst start since the league opened in 2011, entering unfamiliar territory with a 0-2 win-loss slate. It is also the time first-ever that the Road Warriors suffered back-to-back losses.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez admitted that it will be hard for the team to find a quality big man to replace Sangalang and Slaughter.
“We are looking for a big guy who will step up and help the team,” Fernandez said after their 64-71 loss to Cebuana Lhuillier on Thursday. “But with the situation that we have, wala talaga.”
Sangalang was released by NLEX to new team EA Regen Medical Group, which is owned by the big man’s long-time benefactor and former Lubao mayor Dennis Pineda.
Slaughter, meanwhile, has not showed up for practice with NLEX as he concentrates on Gilas Pilipinas, and his studies in Ateneo, while setting his sights on the next PBA draft.
“Ayaw naman naming kumuha para lang mag-patch-up ng big man. If he comes in, he will really help the team,” said Fernandez, adding that they are trying to work on new plays focused on other key players.
“We continue to have plans to make up without Ian and Greg. Actually, maganda ang game plan namin (against Cebuana), I even congratulated my players for what they did. I have no questions, I just told them to continue to make shots and hit them,” Fernandez added.
For now, Fernandez prefers to cite the positives they could take from the defeats.
“If you look at the situation sa stats, we had less turnovers, we just didn’t hit our shots. We have so many fouls at maraming free throws na binigay. Cebuana made their shots, and, ang pinakamasama pa dun, open shots namin, hindi ma-convert. They really prepared against us,” Fernandez said.