NLEX is slowly coming to terms about the reality of no longer having the services of big men Ian Sangalang and Greg Slaughter.
And so finally moving on, the Road Warriors found themselves back on the winning track in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Behind the double digit scoring of RR Garcia, Garvo Lanete, and Jake Pascual, the four-time defending champion finally broke into the win column after a 90-54 rout of rookie team Hogs Breath Tuesday.
Garcia finished with 14 points while Lanete and Pascual had 18 and 13, respectively, in leading the team in arresting a two-game losing streak.
“Syempre masaya ako sa panalo namin ngayon,” said Garcia. “At least bago mag-Holy Week maganda ang ipinakita namin.”
Garcia admitted NLEX is beginning to get used to life without Sangalang and Slaughter.
Sangalang, last season’s Best Player of the Conference, has since moved to EA Regen Medicine owned by his patron Dennis Pineda, while Slaughter opted to stay focused on his studies at Ateneo and with the Gilas Pilipinas national team.
“Sa first two games struggle talaga kami,” admitted Garcia.
“Masakit sa amin yun na nawala `yung dalawa. Nahirapan kami mag-adjust kasi wala kaming dominant na big man.”
But Garcia said the Road Warriors have to accept the fact that both Sangalang and Slaughter are no longer around and they have to do something to get out of an early 0-2 hole in their campaign.
“Nag-usap-usap kami na huwag na umasa na babalik yung dalawa,” said the guard from Far Eastern University. “Bumalik or hindi, dapat laruin namin `yung laro namin. Kaya nag-adjust kami, binalik namin `yung sistema namin na dribble and drive. Buti nanalo na kami ngayon.”
The Road Warriors lost their first two games of the conference against Big Chill (77-86) and Cebuana Lhuillier (64-71).
A part of all the Road Warriors’ four championships, Garcia hopes this will be the start of NLEX’s return to title form.
“Sana magtuluy-tuloy na ang panalo namin,” he said.