NLEX coach Yeng Guiao stuck to the positives after his team saw its Cinderella run in the PBA Governors’ Cup come to an end on Tuesday night at the hands of Star.
Now, the feisty Road Warriors mentor was quick to shift his focus on the rookie draft where they expect to get a player who can hit the ground running and can the missing piece in their bid to being a legitimate contender.
Stuck at bottom of the pile in the first two conferences, the Road Warriors rose from the ashes in the season-ending conference, winning six of their first eight games to become the first team to clinch a playoff berth this tournament.
But they lost three of their next four games, the last two to Star, including the latest on Tuesday night, 89-77, in their quarterfinal matchup to be the first team to get eliminated among the playoff teams.
“We had actually expected a little bit more,” Guiao admitted. “We were playing so well early in the elimination round. Syempre tataas yung expectation mo. I guess the reason why we’re disappointed is because our expectations were propped up by our limited success.”
“This is an improvement, but we’re not only looking to just improve,” he added. “We’re looking to contend with the big boys, and at the same time, it’s a learning experience; we know what we lack, we know what we need, so we’re going to go out there and look for those lacking pieces.”
And the Road Warriors will be looking for them in the upcoming draft where they are expected to have the second overall pick.
“We’re going to get very quality players from the draft, because the draft is going to be high quality, at least in the first round,” Guiao said. “So you’re going to be able to draft somebody who can make an immediate impact sa team.”
Asked which players he’s looking at, Guiao, as expected, rattled off the potential top picks in Christian Standhardinger and Kiefer Ravena.
“Nothing but the obvious no, so kung si Standhardinger ang no. 1, siguro Kiefer kami,” Guiao said. “Kung si Kiefer ang No. 1, Standhardinger kami, kasi most likely No. 2 naman kami, so it's really that obvious siguro."
“Then we have another draft very early in the second round so yun siguro titignan mo na lang sino best available talent in the second round,” he added.
Guiao also hinted of “other ideas on how to build the team, make it even stronger, but I guess hindi pa dapat i-reveal sa ngayon.”
“Now, we’re looking forward to building up from the draft and from opportunities with trades, maybe in the free agency,” Guiao said. “We will keep on looking at our pieces and try to put together a team that can contend at the highest level.”