September 23 ------ Rain or Shine players who have never been under Yeng Guiao in the past already have an idea as to why the veteran mentor is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history. “He’s similar to coach Tab [Baldwin],” Elasto Painters rookie guard Gian Mamuyac said, comparing the fiery mentor to his college coach at Ateneo. “You have to be a professional; you have to be focused in practice.”
Mamuyac and the rest of the Elasto Painters will now get to see more of their new coach on the hardcourt as they open their Commissioner’s Cup campaign on Friday against Guiao’s former team NLEX Road Warriors at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. The 5:45 p.m. tussle will be the start of a second Rain or Shine tenure in which Guiao hopes to take one of the few independent teams in the big league back to prominence, like in the past when the Elasto Painters won two championships in the 2012 Governors’ Cup and 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.
But Guiao has stressed that it would be doubly tough this time and didn’t mince any words when pointing out how the balance of power has tilted heavily toward the richer clubs, particularly those under the banner of San Miguel Corp. and the MVP Group. In order to make the Elasto Painters a winner after their failure to make the quarterfinals of the previous two conferences, Guiao is likely to once again employ the tactic fans have known him to use throughout his career—lighting a fire under his team via his temperamental side. “He’s transparent,” said Rain or Shine sophomore guard Andrei Caracut. “He will tell you the things you have to improve.”
A new beginning is also the theme over at the NLEX camp after finally getting Guiao’s replacement in former NCAA champion coach Frankie Lim. Lim won four NCAA titles with San Beda more than a decade ago, but has not reached that same success during his next two coaching duties with Barangay Ginebra and University of Perpetual Help.
He will try to at least replicate what Guiao did during the latter’s six-year stay with the Road Warriors, but Lim won’t be hands on for the meantime with assistant coach Adonis Tierra set to handle the first two games.
Also eyeing a fresh start is Converge, which will see Aldin Ayo make his PBA coaching debut against Terrafirma in the 3 p.m. opener. It will be a huge test for Ayo as he enters the pros after successful varsity runs with Letran, La Salle and University of Santo Tomas.