NLEX braces for a Ginebra crew that is starting to get together and play like defending champs again

Kevin Alas (No. 7) will be the Road Warriors’ main local gun. —PBA IMAGES

Kevin Alas (No. 7) will be the Road Warriors’ main local gun. —PBA IMAGES

Done with seeing off a team that was saying goodbye to the PBA, NLEX coach Yeng Guiao will now have to deal with a side that he sees is just getting together.

“They’re learning how to play together, and that’s a big problem for any team that plays them,” Guiao said of defending champion Barangay Ginebra, which his Road Warriors drew after the Gin Kings survived two knockout games against fancied TNT to be only roadblocks remaining in their bid to make a title series for the first time in franchise history.

Guiao actually admitted that he didn’t see the Gin Kings as foes in the playoffs, and that he and his wards have somewhat braced toward facing TNT in the semifinals after the Tropang Giga also had a twice-to-beat advantage over Ginebra in the quarterfinals.

But knowing Ginebra to be Ginebra, it didn’t show quit and totally turned that series upside down.

“From one hard series to another that is probably more difficult,” Guiao said after ousting Alaska in their KO duel last Saturday. “We still don’t know what to do against Ginebra. We actually expected [TNT] because they also had twice-to-beat advantage. But now it’s Ginebra.”

For sure, Guiao and his staff have already drawn up plans against the Kings for the series that starts on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay as he has already identified the one local player he sees has been the big difference in Ginebra’s late run.

The decorated Guiao has put his sights on Scottie Thompson, the tireless guard who has been playing at an astounding level this playoffs. Thompson was actually named the PBA Press Corps-Cignal Player of the Week after those two victories over the Tropang Giga where he averaged 20 points, 12.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists.

And then he will deal with the others.

“We will just have to find the proper matchups,” he said. “Plus, I think they’re gaining chemistry with Japeth [Aguilar] and Christian [Standhardinger]. They’re learning how to play together, and that’s a big problem for any team that plays them.”

The other semifinal series will pit No. 1 Magnolia against Meralco, a salivating matchup considering how the two sides live on defense.

NLEX made it as the No. 2 seed mainly because of KJ McDaniels, its original import who had to go home to the United States after the elimination round to attend to his wife who was due to give birth.

Instead, the Road Warriors brought in Cameron Clark, a European league veteran, to take his place.

And in a strange twist, Clark saw his team and the Kings in action for the first time in a March 4 clash where management introduced him to his Road Warrior teammates. INQ

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