THEY have dropped games to two elite squads with a combined losing margin of just six points, and NLEX main man Asi Taulava is confident a little adjustment would help the Road Warriors go all the way.
The Road Warriors have a tough assignment against powerhouse Purefoods in the PBA Commissioner’s cup on Wednesday, but Taulava is unfazed.
The five-point loss to Rain or Shine and a hairline defeat to Alaska actually boosted the Road Warriors' morale more than it dampened their spirits, according to the evergreen slotman.
“We’ve played in some close games against two elite teams in Rain or Shine and Alaska, but we remain upbeat because we know sooner or later, we’ll get the breaks,” Taulava told Spin.ph on Monday.
The 6-foot-9 NLEX slotman said this early, the key is to maintain that “forward-looking” approach, knowing the Road Warriors have nine more games in the eliminations ahead of them.
“We’re happy because our defense is coming along well. Coach Boyet (Fernandez) has set a goal for us and we feel with nine games more to go, we’ll just keep getting better and better,” he added.
Import Al Thornton, a former NBA player selected 14th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2007 Draft, has been adjusting well to the PBA style of play, averaging 33.5 points and 12.5 rebounds and shooting 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
Thornton actually had a chance to win the game for NLEX on Saturday, but the 6-foot-7 former Florida State standout lost the ball while trying to get past a phalanx of defenders.
[See Alaska escapes past NLEX for first win in Commissioner's Cup]
“Al’s such a big factor for us because we know he can score,” noted the 42-year-old Taulava.
The one-time league MVP said he expects the game to be a lot tougher come Wednesday when the Hotshots parade new import Daniel Orton.
Orton is set to take over from Marqus Blakely, who steered Purefoods Star to a 3-0 record in the import-spiced, mid-season conference.
“I’ve got no nights-off guarding import, so for me, I’ll just have to work hard and try my best to limit him (Orton) because again, everything starts on defense,” he said.