NLEX traded Mike Ayonayon ‘with a heavy heart’, admits Yeng Guiao

After sending Mike Ayonayon and Will McAloney to Blackwater for Marion Magat, NLEX’s multi-titled coach Yeng Guiao stated they had a hard time letting go of the two players.

Both bench players lost in the tough competition for spots in the Road Warriors’ rotation, as per Guiao.

The 62-year-old tactician also explained that staying for the Road Warriors will not do any good for the two youngsters and he believes they will perform better with other squads.

Ayonayon, the 3rd overall pick of the 2019 PBA Draft, was one of the rising stars from the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. He suited up for the San Juan Knights.

Unfortunately, the Antipolo City, Rizal native played limited minutes for the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned franchise and fell out of Guiao’s rotation during the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup in Bacolor, Pampanga. He saw action in just five games and only scored two points.

It was increasingly difficult for Guiao to provide Ayonayon with the minutes he deserves as they already had a deep backcourt bannered by Jericho Cruz and Kevin Alas to go along with Calvin Oftana and Don Trollano.

“We like Mike and we traded him with a heavy heart,” said the former Rain or Shine mentor.

“We feel he and McAloney can mature and get more opportunities in another team rather than if they stayed with us,” he added.

Guiao said the reason why they acquired Magat from the Bossing is to improve his frontcourt lineup in order to have better chances against highly-skilled big men such as June Mar Fajardo Christian Standhardinger, Ian Sangalang and Raymond Almazan.

The Road Warriors have JR Quiñahan, Raoul Soyud, and Michael Miranda in their frontline but Guiao stressed the lack of a big man capable of stopping Fajardo and others.

According to the former national team coach, their acquisition of Magat will add much-needed size to the Road Warriors’ frontline.

“We really need more size.”

Guiao admitted that McAloney, a former Cebu standout in the MPBL, is an undersized big that was the same as Quiñahan, Miranda and Soyud.

“We have big men who aren’t really big,” he said.

“Size is what we need right now,” the former Burger King mentor’s response when asked whether Magat, who played for the Road Warriors in 2017 and later was traded to TNT for the 31-year-old guard out of Adamson University, can make their weakness disappear.

“And he did well for us the first time he was here.”

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