AN INTACT Alaska tests the mettle of an NLEX side now under Yeng Guiao when the two squads open their respective PBA Philippine Cup campaigns on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
One would think the Road Warriors have become more intimidating with the fiery coach at the helm, but Aces counterpart Alex Compton believe NLEX can’t force their will as much as they’d like to owing to the league’s rules on physicality.
“You can’t really be intimidating in our league,” Compton told SPIN.ph after practice on the eve of the 7 p.m. game. “You’re going to be called for a flagrant, you’re going to get fined.”
“I don’t think coach Yeng will be afraid to get thrown out in a game or express his opinion. I don’t think he’s ever been afraid to do that. But that’s his right and his money. He can choose to spend it how he wants,” the American coach added.
“I choose not to go that route,” he continued with a smile. “I have three young kids. Every now and then, I feel like I got to defend my guys, but I don’t have the guts and money to do what he does.”
Turning serious, Compton, though, believes that what the Road Warriors can’t do physically, they’ll make up for it mentally – with Guiao calling the shots.
“The commissioner’s pretty strict on the physicality allowed, but I think they’ll be mentally tougher and guys will play with less fear on their side,” Compton said. “They’re going to be dangerous. I think the whole league is aware of that once coach Yeng got hired at NLEX. Everybody started to sit up and take a little more notice.”
Asi Taulava and Sean Anthony remain the Road Warriors’ pillars, but Compton believes the team’s culture has changed now with Guiao there.
“Coach Yeng’s a proven winner and he’s going to bring that to NLEX,” Compton said. “I think NLEX will start beating teams – hopefully not Alaska – that they weren’t beating as much. I think that coach Yeng, wherever he’s gone, he’s changed the atmosphere and changed the nature of the way that team plays.”