Road Warriors intend to start preparing early

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    TEAMS that were forced to make an early exit in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble are taking with them some valuable lessons they would be pondering on during their downtime.

    Foremost among them is NLEX, which intends to take a very short break before preparing early for next season, according to coach Yeng Guiao.

    Guiao’s first move is to tinker with the make-up of the Road Warriors.

    “We need to do some administrative chores since we have 15 players, I think, whose contracts are expiring,” Guiao said after his team’s 127-101 win over Terrafirma yesterday to end their campaign at the AUF Gym in Angeles City.

    “So we’ll use this time, from now until probably before Christmas time, to renew the players we feel that we’ll need for the next conference or next season,” added Guiao.

    “They’ll probably start in January, our preparation for the next season.”

    The early start was spurred by what Guiao learned in the bubble, where his team groped for form at the start of the bubble last Oct. 11 and had them losing five of their first six games.

    The Road Warriors won four of their last five games but still fell short in their bid to advance to the eight-team quarterfinals. They actually wound up ninth overall.

    “I guess the lesson here is to start early, get in better shape,” offered Guiao, pointing to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced the PBA to shut down starting March 11.

    “Because I felt that nu’ng March, nu’ng magka-lockdown, we were really in good shape. I was really optimistic about our chances,” Guiao said.

    “But the seven-month lockdown changed everything. So now we’d like to start early, we’d like to be prepared physically and mentally. We have a lot of lessons that we’ve learned from this bubble. So we’d take those lessons with us and be sure to come up with a better team.”

    One thing that should help NLEX’s projected build-up are the two first round picks it has in the coming rookie draft.

    “I’m hoping the draft pool will be deep,” said Guiao. “If we have those newcomers and we have the core of the team we will be more competitive next year.”