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Road Warriors deep at work ahead of PBA Season 46 bid

LOOKING to do well in the new season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the NLEX Road Warriors are wasting no time in preparing at its training “bubble” at Clark City in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The Yeng Guiao-coached squad began its training at the St. Paul American School on Monday and will continue to do so until May 30.

The team is billeted at the Supia Resort in Clark.

The bubble training is part of the Road Warriors’ buildup for PBA Season 46 where they hope to make a deep run.

“We’ve learned our lessons from last year’s bubble tournament where we didn’t have much time to prepare. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes we made,” Mr. Guiao was quoted as saying by the official PBA website as to the significance of their ongoing training.

He shared that the pandemic continues to hamper their preparation, but they are trying to be creative in going about things.

“Any opportunity you can get at this time will be a big help.”

The Road Warriors failed to make it to the playoffs of the lone PBA tournament last year, played in a bubble setting also in Clark City.

They finished with a 5-6 record, good for ninth place in the 12-team field.

This season the team will be anchored by young veterans Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas and Jericho Cruz, along with the steady presence of the likes of JR Quinahan, Raul Soyud and Michael Miranda.

NLEX drafted Gilas cadet Calvin Oftana from San Beda University to further shore up its front court.

Following their training in Clark, the Road Warriors are looking to continue their preparation in its home base at the Epsilon Chi Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The team was forced to temporarily take its training somewhere else as sports activities are still largely not allowed in the National Capital Region which is under General Community Quarantine with “heightened restrictions” until the end of the month.

PBA teams were given the nod by the government to return to practices but only in areas under GCQ, with no heightened restrictions, and Modified GCQ like Pampanga.

Nine teams are having their training in Batangas City while TNT and Meralco are in Ilocos Norte.

The PBA is looking to start its pandemic-delayed Season 46 in late June or early July. It is aiming to have two conferences to give fans “more basketball action.”

Meanwhile, one of the league’s popular players has called it a career.

Multiple champion and many-time national team member Marc Pingris of the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok announced on Tuesday his retirement from the PBA after 16 successful years.

Mr. Pingris, 39, fondly referred to as “Pinoy Sakuragi,” made the announcement on social media.

“I played 16 years in the PBA and now is the time to start a new chapter in my life,” the Pozorrubio, Pangasinan native said in Filipino.

FedEx drafted Mr. Pingris third in the 2004 PBA Draft but it was with the Purefoods-BMeg- San Mig-Magnolia franchise where he had the most success, winning nine PBA titles, including a Grand Slam in 2014 with San Mig Coffee. He also played briefly for San Miguel.

He was twice finals most valuable player, 15 times an All-Star and three times the defensive player of the year.

Mr. Pingris was also named to the 40 Greatest PBA Players of All Time.

He was part of Gilas Pilipinas for various international tournaments, including the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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