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Frankie Lim aware of task at hand upon return to MVP Group with NLEX Road Warriors

Frankie Lim was handed the reins of NLEX Road Warriors shortly after the start of the ongoing PBA Commissioner's Cup following the departure of Yeng Guiao. PBA Media Bureau

NLEX Road Warriors coach Frankie Lim's circuitous coaching path has landed him back in the MVP Group.

But he admits he has his work cut out for him in his return to the PBA sidelines as he tries to steer an injury-riddled team to a decent finish in the 2022 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Lim, who was appointed head coach shortly after the Commissioner's Cup kicked off last month following the departure of Yeng Guiao, said his biggest challenge is to get his players to play "the way I want them to play basketball."

"They were under Yeng for a long time," Lim told ESPN in a mixture of English and Filipino. "They were used to doing stuff a certain way.

"There's some changes and I'm having some difficulty with their habits. I'm trying to make adjustments to the plays, how they play defense. It's not going to happen overnight.

"It's how you run your break, it's how you make more passes rather than dribbling. All those minute details."

The Road Warriors are in the middle of the pack with a 3-3 record, but are just 1-3 under Lim, who had little time to get to know his team.

"It was a day before one game," he said, referring to the exact moment he came onboard. "When I arrived they already started. They already beat Rain or Shine (Elasto Painters). I came in the day before (the Blackwater Bossing game)."

However, Lim was unable to coach right away as he had to serve a one-game suspension stemming from an incident in early 2015 when, as Barangay Ginebra coach, he kicked a fallen Calvin Abueva during a playoff game.

Lim was replaced after the Gin Kings were eliminated.

He eventually landed the head coaching job at the Perpetual Help Altas in the NCAA but was replaced before Season 97 earlier this year. Out of a job yet again, Lim patiently waited for his phone to ring.

It finally did last month, with MVP Group executive Ricky Vargas on the other line offering him the NLEX job.

After meeting with team officials, Lim was back in the MVP Group, ten years after he resigned as San Beda Red Lions head coach following a two-year NCAA suspension for his role in an altercation involving then-San Sebastian Stags men's volleyball coach Roger Gorayeb.

After a brief coaching stint in Indonesia, Lim was hired first as an assistant in late 2014 with Ginebra before taking the full reins in what would turn out to be just a one-conference stint. But through it all, he always felt the opportunity to rejoin the MVP Group's stable of basketball coaches was always there.

"There was always a chance (of returning)," revealed Lim. "It's just that there weren't any available positions.

"All their teams have coaches. TNT (Tropang Giga) has Chot (Reyes), Meralco (Bolts) has Norman (Black). So there was no vacancy and it took a while."

Compared to his first PBA head coaching stint, Lim said his second go-around at the pro level presents a big challenge.

"That Ginebra team that I handled was pretty strong compared to this (NLEX) team," he said. "When I first saw my players, a lot of them were injured. On my first day, there were four.

"Then another one got injured. So there was a game I think I only had ten players and my 10th player was (49-year-old) Asi (Taulava).

"That is how bad it is. It's tough. Sometimes when I turn towards my bench there's no one I can use."

The Road Warriors have shown some fight in them of late, pulling off a big win over heavyweights TNT before faltering late against another powerhouse in San Miguel Beermen.

But Lim still wants to temper expectations, adding: "I just want to have a decent finish.

"Although, of course, you're also looking at a higher finish. We just have to find a way to beat the other teams."

Lim wants to beef up his frontline rotation, and to that end he's grateful they got rookie Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser in the Calvin Oftana trade.

"He's another big body for our team," he said. "That's what we lack, a big man. He's about 6(-foot-)7, 6-8. He'll be a big help for us because before he came in, our only big men were Justin (Chua) and (Michael) Miranda."

Earlier this month, the Road Warriors picked up point guard Reden Celda from the free agent pool, and Lim hinted that more signings could be coming.

"The first thing I should do is to look for players," he stressed. "I need to strengthen the team.

"Right now we are looking for players we can bring to NLEX. Before I arrived they already traded away Oftana. I told the bosses, 'If you can put in maybe a couple more guys we'll improve.'"