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NLEX starting to embrace life without Kiefer

Coach Yeng Guiao believes it's high time for his Road Warriors to carry the slack without Kiefer Ravena. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--NLEX entered the Bacolor phase of the PBA Philippine Cup without its main point guard Kiefer Ravena.

And with "The Phenom" possibly out for the rest of the PBA season as he joins the Shiga Lakestars for the B.League, Coach Yeng Guiao believes it's high time to move on.

"We have to start defining ourselves without Kiefer from hereon," Guiao said on Saturday night.

Ravena is currently in Otsu, Japan as he finishes some needed paperwork for his impending transfer, but he promised the PBA that he will quickly return home to finish his commitments with the Road Warriors for the season-opening conference.

For now, NLEX will have to play at least the rest of the elimination round without him.

And so far, the team is doing well.

Following a 94-76 blowout against the Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym, the Road Warriors are now 2-0 in the historic Pampanga town and have won three consecutive games dating back to July 25, when the league was holding its games in Pasig.

"Siguro nakaka-motivate din sa amin yun," Guiao added after the win.

While its main offensive facilitator is out, NLEX is making it up on defense, holding Alaska to just 74 points on Thursday and Phoenix to just 76 on Saturday night.

"It is our defensive intensity and our desire to win," Guiao shared what went right for the Road Warriors this week.

With the winning streak intact, they are now in fourth place at 4-2, 1.5 games behind the TNT Tropang Giga for first place and a full game behind the Magnolia Hotshots for second.

The top two teams after the preliminaries will gain a one-win incentive in the quarterfinals, which means they only need to beat the seventh and the eighth seeds once to advance to the semifinals.

The teams at the median range will face off in separate best-of-three series to determine the other two semifinalists.

NLEX remains on track of getting that quarterfinal advantage, which means a shorter route to the semis--and possibly having Ravena back into its fold based on Guiao's projection considering the COVID-19 travel quarantine rules of the Japanese and Philippine governments.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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