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News  


OUTIDE LOOKING IN: Are the NLEX Road Warriors for real?


PhilBoxing.com



Yeng Guiao.

Nobody has been able to figure out why Yeng Guiao is a basketball coach, except he’s good at it.


Coach Yeng reads everything there is to read that has X’s and O’s.

Coach Yeng has so far won nine PBA championships – three with Swift and and five with Red Bull, now both inactive, and one with Rain or Shine.

He has a knack to spotting raw talents and develop them into big time campaigners. He has a soft heart for veterans who he believes still have what it takes to play in the pro-league and produce results.

Most importantly, coach Yeng believes in what young players can do.

Coach Yeng is an example of how basketball coaches as class are. At the start of the on-going Philippine Cup of the country’s pioneering play-for-pay league, his NLEX Road Warriors didn’t deserve a second look as contenders for the title for the most prestigious tournament of the season.

Why, the Roads Warriors as everybody knows, ended up near the bottom of the 12-team standing. But after the one-round eliminations, coach Yeng Guao’s boys had advanced to the quarterfinal round, survived contender Alaska Milk and are now playing in the Final Four tied with the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots 2-2 after four games in the race for the two finals slots.

How did it happen, coach Yemg only chuckled when asked by this OUTSIDER. “Wala, wala namang sekretong malaking nangyari beween the last season and this conference,” he attested.

“It’s just that we thought there is a need to upgrade the line up para at least makasabay sa mga malalakas na team,” he said. “Fortunately, naniwala ang management na inaprobahan ang aming rekomendasyon. We got the full-support of the big bosses.

The pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. JR. Quinahan, Alex Mallari, Larry Fonacier and Cyrus Baguio came to form the “council” of elders, which coach Yeng said play the role as team leaders. “Si Kevin (Alas) nadatnan ko na as well, as Asi (Taulava).

Coach Yeng’s biggest catch, came in the person of former amateur standout Keifer Ravena who he picked during the drafting season. “Madali namang naka-adjust lahat. Nagkatugma sina Kevin at Keifer. Parehong matapang at mataas ang basketball IQ.”

Coach Yeng admitted he never thought his team would advance as far as the semifinal round. “Pero naging maganda ang chemistry. Nagkaintindihan lahat kaya heto kami nasa semkis at may tsansang mag-finals.”

“Kahit naman hindi kami makarating sa championshijp playoff, masaya na kami in the thought that nakilala namin ang aming nakalaban, nakilala kami ng mga kalaban at nakilala namin ang aming sarili at kung hanggang saan ang aming kayang maabot,” coach Yeng skid rather philosophically.

“Respeto ang aming hinanap, at natagpuan na namin ito,” he said.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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