#PBA2015 Roster Review: The NLEX Road Warriors

With the 2014-2015 PBA season’s official rosters released, I found it only logical to look at each line-up and see where each team stands. In this series of posts, I’ll be breaking down each team’s bigs, wings, and floor generals while also looking at what kind of damage they’ll do this season.
Let’s look at roster of the NLEX Road Warriors.

This is a new team filled with old faces.

Overall 2013-2014 Record: 15 wins and 25 losses as the Air 21 Express.

Best Finish: Semifinals in the 2014 Commish Cup as the Air 21 Express.

BIGS: Eric Camson, Rico Villanueva, Aldrech Ramos, Jeckster Apinan, Asi Taulava, Raul Soyud
- The one clear thing here is that Asi Taulava will be this team’s focal point in the frontline. It’s quite possible that coach Boyet Fernandez will use Asi as his lone post player and surround him with guys who can spread the floor. Among the frontliners, perhaps Camson and Ramos are the one best-suited to fill the role of stretch-4. Having said that, Taulava should be more than up to the task in terms of anchoring the middle for NLEX. He showed last season how he has defied his age, averaging about 15 points and 12 rebounds and playing all 40 games for Air 21. If that’s not durability, then I don’t know what is.

Asi Taulava is this team's undisputed main man.

- The x-factors for this frontline will be Rico Villanueva and Aldrech Ramos. Villanueva’s presence was hardly felt last season, but if he can summon the form that enabled him to put up 10 points and 8 rebounds a game in 2012-2013, then he should be a solid back-up at either big man position. Ramos, for his part, has to be for NLEX what Ryan Anderson once was for the Orlando Magic. Last season, the former FEU Tamaraw hit about a third of his attempts from downtown. If he can improve on that even a little bit, then he’ll be able to open up space for Asi, Rico, and the driving Mac Cardona even more.  

WINGS: Mac Cardona, KG Cañaleta, Mark Borboran, Eloy Poligrates, Harold Arboleda
- Mac Cardona will be NLEX’s main option at the wings this season. The former King Archer scored just 9.9 points a game last season, which was the lowest since his rookie year. He also shot a career-low 38.8% from the field. Captain Hook will definitely work extra hard to make up for those numbers and help this team possibly move to the next tier. He will have to be on-target from downtown, though, as he shot just 25% from deep last season – another career-low.

Mac Cardona tries to split the GlobalPort defense.

- He’ll have a lot of help, though, as Cañaleta, Borboran, and Poligrates should be great offensive sparks for the Road Warriors. One must remember that Cañaleta was this team’s main scorer before he moved to Talk N Text last season. KG averaged a career-high 16.7ppg in his last full season with Air 21, while also draining 2.6 triples per outing. If he can approach those numbers, then he and Ramos should be the deadliest duo of sweet-shooting forwards in the league. Borboran and Poligrates, meanwhile, should be great off the bench. The former has great size for a PBA SF, and he has enough moves to be a threat from outside and inside. Poligrates showed last season how he could be a game-changing spark, and if he can have the same effect on NLEX here, then the Road Warriors’ second unit should be solid.

FLOOR GENERALS: Jonas Villanueva, John Villarias, Wynne Arboleda, Juneric Baloria, Pamboy Raymundo
- This is, perhaps, the weakest position for NLEX. Jonas Villanueva has never really been able to make the jump from pretty good to superstar, while Wynne Arboleda is well past his prime. Raymundo is best known for his physicality, while Villarias and Baloria are yet untested at this level. Villanueva may have some stretches of brilliance, but he’s definitely the kind of point guard NLEX needs to really make a lot of noise this season. Remember that Alex Cabagnot torched this backcourt for 23 points in their first game. Coach Boyet better be patient, especially when they go up against the likes of Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio, and Mark Barroca.

Jonas Villanueva as the team's top PG? Yikes.

Final Word: Uphill
- Despite having a relatively experienced crew repackaged in a new franchise, NLEX will face an uphill battle this season. Taulava and Cardona will try to carry this team, but their lack of depth at the PG spot and collective age will eventually catch up with them. This could be a regular quarterfinal threat, but anything beyond that will already be asking too much.

Images by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5.

Next Post »
0 Comment