Guiao counting on 'misunderstood' Alex Mallari to play major role in NLEX resurrection
Yeng Guiao not only likes Alex Mallari the player, but he also likes the stories told to him by former teammates and friends of the NLEX new boy. 

YENG Guiao has read the story about that very public admonition - and eventual falling out - with Mahindra coach Chris Gavina, talked to the players' friends, spoke to Alex Mallari himself.

He trusts Mallari enough to make him a major part of NLEX's resurrection.

"We did our due diligence," said Guiao when asked what prompted him to gamble on Mallari in the course of a major overhaul of an NLEX team that failed to make the playoffs in the Philippine Cup and has yet to win eight games into its Commissioner's Cup campaign.

Mallari, no doubt, is quite a talent: 6-foot-4, long wingspan, versatility that allows him to play the one, two and three positions. But he has also gone through three teams since being made the No. 3 pick overall in the 2012 PBA rookie draft, unable to stick despite the enormous talent.

The parting of ways at Mahindra was particularly bitter as Mallari was called out by Gavina for 'lack of maturity and leadership' weeks before he was shipped to NLEX in exchange for Glenn Khobuntin and Eric Camson.

[See Gavina calls out Mallari: 'We have too many crybabies right now']

Guiao, however, is looking at the bigger picture, having talked to Mallari's former teammates and his friends as well as the player himself before pulling the trigger on the trade, of course with the usettling Mahindra episode under consideration.

"We talked to his former teammates, his friends. We liked what we heard," said the multi-titled coach. "We also talked to Alex himself. He tells me he was just trying to do his best, do his job. So may be he was just a little misunderstood.

"You know, there are coaches and players who click and some that don't. So we'll see."

Mallari will now be part of a revamped NLEX nucleus that also includes Larry Fonacier and JR Quinahan, former Guiao players who came on board via four-team, multi-player trade that saw the Road Warriors part with youngsters Bradwyn Guinto and Garvo Lanete, and veteran Sean Anthony.

[See Fonacier, Quinahan reunited with Guiao as PBA approves four-team, seven-player trade]

The revamp has left NLEX with a veteran core now made up of Mallari (30), Fonacier (34), Quinahan (33) and Asi Taulava (43), which Guiao now hopes would help the Road Warriors win close games which a much-younger team had trouble finishing early this season.

"We've lost a lot of close games this season where we were in control for three-and-a-half quarters," said Guiao. "By bringing in the experience and maturity, we hope that would change."


Responding to criticism that he has given up a lot of young, promising players in the course of the revamp, Guiao said, "We won't have any future to worry about if we don't take care of the present. We have to establish a winning culture first, then the future will take care of itself."

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