THE emotional win over Barangay Ginebra somehow had an adverse effect on NLEX.
The Road Warriors didn’t come out with a sense of urgency in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against new team Phoenix and paid the price in the form of a 118-106 loss Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The loss came just five days after the team stunned the fancied Kings in overtime, 114-112, in a game where NLEX import Al Thornton dropped a conference-high 50 points.
Apparently, the Road Warriors haven’t gotten over the euphoria of their big win against the league’s crowd darling.
“We just bit of relaxed and got a little bit overconfident after that win against Ginebra,” admitted veteran big man Asi Taulava later on. “(We) thought it was gonna be a walkover against Phoenix.”
Thornton was held to just 27 points this time by the debuting Fuel Masters, while Taulava came through with 18 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.
At the same time, the Road Warriors also failed to play well on the defensive end after allowing the Fuel Masters to score 118 points against them. NLEX has allowed its opponents to score an average of 116 points against them in their first two games in the mid-season conference.
“We sucked on defense the last two games,” the 43-year-old Taulava said. “We gave way too many points and tried to outscore the other teams. And it backfired (on us).”
But Taulava said the loss was an early wake-up call for the franchise.
“Great thing it happened early. Now we have to go back and work hard and be ready for Saturday,” he said.
The Road Warriors (1-1) battle the winless Star Hotshots (0-2) over the weekend in Binan, Laguna.