NLEX coach Yeng Guiao was so confident that his team would pick up its second straight win this conference that, after getting ejected, he went straight to the press room for the winning coach’s press conference even when his team’s game against Kia was yet to be decided.
True enough, the Road Warriors went on to sustain their promising start as they held off the Picanto after a late rally, 100-93, to gain the early the lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup and already match their win total last conference.
“I was so excited that I came over here early after picking up two straight technicals,” the fiery mentor said in jest, drawing laughter from the press, before turning serious.
“It’s a nice feeling to be putting together a streak,” he added. “I think the confidence level is getting better. We were really excited, because there’s really a transformation that’s happening within the team from our previous mentality.”
Aaron Fuller continued to show that he’s the right fit as the NLEX import registered 24 points and 19 boards, while Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa led the local attack and typified the transformation that Guiao was talking about as the Road Warriors dealt the Picanto their second straight loss.
The result also enabled the Road Warriors to put up their best start in a conference with imports and matched their franchise best start overall, achieved in the Philippine Cup last season.
The four successive victories dating back to last conference is also the Road Warriors’ second-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Lastimosa scored all his 13 points in the first quarter to spark the one-sided outing, before Alas scattered six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter in the face of a Kia rally.
The Road Warriors led by as many as 27 points, 78-51, a third-quarter cushion big enough to withstand the Picanto mounting a comeback that saw them come to within five, 98-93 in the final minute of play when Guiao was already in the press room.
“Pinapaganda lang (yung laro), kayo naman,” Guiao joked.
NLEX 100 – Fuller 24, Alas 13, Lastimosa 13, Quiñahan 11, Taulava 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Mallari 6, Soyud 6, Baracael 5, Villanueva 5, Fonacier 3, Ighalo 0, Tiongson 0, Monfort 0, Rios 0
KIA 93 – Cummings 30, Khobuntin 15, Jaime 13, Celda 8, Paniamogan 6, Elorde 6, Yee 4, Corpuz 4, Camson 3, Salva 2, Nimes 2, Caperal 0, Galanza 0, Teng 0, Ballesteros 0
Quarterscores: 36-18, 64-40, 83-70, 100-93