NLEX warriors go high-tech

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
NLEX warriors go high-tech
Yeng Guiao.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is trying something new for the PBA Governors’ Cup which opens tomorrow. He’s formed a group to do statistics-based analytics as a way to guide the coaching staff on how to strategize against teams and optimize player movements on the court leading to a higher probability of winning.

“This is separate from the coaching staff,” explained Guiao. “Basketball technology is now so advanced that we want to take advantage of analytics in improving our performance. We almost have a one-on-one player-to-coach ratio because we’re focused on skills development, conditioning and explosiveness.”

Aside from analytics, Guiao tweaked his lineup for the coming conference, addressing gaps that were evident in the recent Philippine Cup where the Road Warriors finished a win away from making it to the semifinals. “We felt Kiefer’s (Ravena) absence and we lost size when Poy (Erram) left,” said Guiao. “So in the offseason, we brought back Marion (Magat) to fill in for Poy and got Kris (Rosales) who will help out Kevin (Alas) in the backcourt.”

Guiao said the rigodon of local players and the arrival of imports, five of whom have never played in the PBA, make for an unpredictable conference. IATF protocols also made it difficult for teams to go full-blast in training at the start. “We’ve had to be creative because we were allowed to do only small group training and how do you practice that way for a team sport?” continued Guiao. “It hasn’t been optimal for us to scrimmage one or two weeks with our imports. It’s the same situation with the other teams. The first week of competition will be hard as everyone will be getting adjusted to game conditions.”

Guiao said deciding on KJ McDaniels as NLEX’ import was easy. “We contacted former TNT coach Mark Dickel and he gave his thumbs-up,” he said. “We actually thought of signing our former import Ola (Ashaolu). Alaska ended up signing him and Ola looked good when we scrimmaged against Alaska a few days ago and we lost.”

Guiao said Raul Soyud and Kris Porter are still rehabbing and may miss the first few games of the conference. Soyud underwent arthroscopic surgery in the knee while Porter is recovering from an Achilles injury. Likely to miss the conference is Tony Semerad who played a key role, scoring 23 points in NLEX’ win over Meralco in the first game of the twice-to-win quarterfinals. Semerad isn’t vaccinated and under PBA rules, he won’t be able to suit up. The breaks in NLEX’ roster may provide the opening for Asi Taulava to play. Tualava, 48, is still active. “Asi’s in the roster,” said Guiao. “I think he’s planning to break Robert Jaworski’s record.” Jaworski retired in 1998 at the age of 52.

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