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Rios rues poor NLEX second half that pulled huge game down the drain

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Despite a huge late meltdown that sent NLEX to its fifth straight loss on Friday night at the PhilSports Arena, there are still some positives the team can take.

One of them is Jansen Rios' explosion in the first half.

Rios dropped 17 points in the first 24 minutes to lead the Road Warriors' early charge.

"More on teamwork kami noong first half. Naka-11 assists agad kami eh," Rios told Dugout Philippines why he is crediting his teammates for the scoring barrage.

In a separate interview with some writers, Coach Yeng Guiao lauded the former Adamson wingman.

"That's good for Jansen's confidence. That's why I put him in the endgame," Guiao said.

However, Rios cooled down in the second half, only making three points the rest of the way.

"Siguro nawala yung transition play namin. Doon kami nakaka-score. Isa pa, kailangan pa ring dumepensa kasi Rain Or Shine yan eh. Kahit leading ka ng 10, alam nila kung paano manalo," Rios thought about NLEX's implosion.

Despite the late struggles, Guiao justified his move to keep Rios in the game during the fourth.

"He deserves to be there even if medyo nagmimintis na siya banding huli. [It's for] gaining some experience and mental exercise for him na, 'Paano ko tatapusin ang laro na ito after playing good in the first half?'" he explained.

NLEX will not return to action until a Jan. 7 game in Angeles against TNT, but Rios has already seen enough about the team's ugly start to the PBA Philippine Cup.

"E-enjoyin namin ang Christmas break, pero kailangan pa rin ng focus kasi 1-5 na ang standing namin. Nakakahiya na," he vowed.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno