NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is tempering his expectations on Arnett Moultrie, who’s set to make his debut for the Road Warriors in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup matchup against Rain or Shine on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Road Warriors’ original choice who finally managed to come over after he was held up by his team in Bahrian, Moultrie has NBA pedigree, being the 27th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by Miami and having played two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers before going overseas.
“It certainly is a reason for us to be positive – the mere fact that he’s a first-rounder with NBA experience, pero marami na kasing ganung import na dumating dito na hindi rin nag-succeed, so it’s really a cautious optimism with regards to that,” Guiao told SPIN.ph after practice on the eve of their matchup against his former team at 7 p.m.
“Pag dating dito kasi, sometimes those NBA credentials don’t really show,” he added. “But it gives you a little hope na siguro naman na kung nakita na may ganun siyang talent sa NBA, baka dito lumitaw.”
At first look, Moultrie, who stands a shade below 6-10, has the inside-outside game that Guiao requires from his big men, unlike stand-in import Adrian Forbes, who made a decent debut with 26 points, 17 boards, and five blocks, but was hardly an outside threat in their 123-103 loss to Columbian Dyip last Saturday.
“I expected that he would have the right kind of skillset for the team’s system, and so far in practice, I’ve not been disappointed,” Guiao said of Moultrie. “But maybe it’s too soon to say. I guess I can make a better assessment after our game tomorrow.”
“But he’s still going to make adjustments with the weather; hirap na hirap siya sa init, so siguro bukas, during the game, he might struggle a little bit sa umpisa,” he admitted. “But once he gets his bearings, I think his natural talent is going to come out.”
“May tira siya sa labas, meron siyang post moves, he can run with the team; for somebody who’s 6’9”, 6’10”, he’s very quick,” he continued. “Defensively, I think he has great instincts…he has great court sense, court view, so we’ll know tomorrow exactly what he can contribute.”
The 27-year-old Moultrie, a former UTEP and Mississippi State standout, averaged 3.6 points and 3.1 boards in 12.4 minutes in 59 games for the 76ers in the 2013 and 2014 NBA seasons, before becoming a journeyman.
“He’s young for an import – he’s not too young. At the same time, he’s not too old, so he’s just the right age,” Guiao said. “He’s had experience abroad, playing overseas; to me, that’s very important knowing how it works when you play outside your country.”
Moultrie matches up with the E-Painters hefty reinforcement, Reggie Johnson, who has been what the doctor ordered for the E-Painters after leading them to back-to-back wins, the latest a 108-89 rout of Ginebra last Sunday.
“Actually, their import seems to be the right fit for them also,” Guiao said of Johnson. “He’s complementing them. At the same time, giving them what they really need, which is an inside presence. He looks big, but he’s deceptive because he’s not that slow. Kala mo mabagal, pero hindi siya ganun kabagal. So he’s going to be matchup problem for us.
“Even if our import is long and athletic, he does not have the weight to match up with his bulk, so it’s going to be a matchup for maybe Arnett being a little quicker and being a little taller, as opposed to Johnson being wide-bodied and being a lot stronger inside,” he added.