Guiao: This team is designed for others to step up
Coach Yeng Guiao has always been used to rising through adversity.
In the eliminations, he had to steer Rain or Shine through 11 games sans star guard Paul Lee who had been recovering from a knee injury. Still, the Elasto Painters finished third, a game short from an outright semifinals spot.
With his team playing sluggish towards the end of the eliminations, Guiao knew Rain or Shine needed to experience a tough grind. And with the team forced to play in the quarterfinal phase, the Elasto Painters found their bearings, downing Mahindra and TNT in quick succession, to once again look like the championship contender.
In the semifinals, with June Mar Fajardo playing his best basketball, Guiao provided the perfect counterpunch, devising a game plan to negate the Beermen’s support crew’s production to take a 2-1 series lead after three games.
And now, two games away from clinching a spot in the 2016 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup Finals, without Raymond Almazan and Jericho Cruz, the fiery coach, as always, took the bump in stride. “We’re used to making adjustments anyway,” he said.
Almazan sprained his right ankle prior to Game 3, yet Rain or Shine bucked his absence to take a 111-106 win on Saturday. Now, Guiao is looking at a series where he may also lose the energetic Cruz, who has been a revelation this conference, after the former Adamson Falcon hyperextended his left leg following a collision against Marcio Lassiter late in Game 3.
Though Guiao is keeping his hopes up, the Kapampangan mentor has said that he has prepared his wards well for any incidents like this.
“I’m hoping Jericho’s injury isn’t really serious, but from the looks of it, it’s not looking good, at least in our standpoint on the bench when it happened.
We lost Raymond for this series, but I’m hoping we’re able to extend this series long enough so that he can contribute, but again, the chances of that happening look bleak,” he said.
“We’re paying a big cost for this series, but that’s how it is. We’re willing to pay that cost and take up the challenge. We just keep making the adjustments. This team is designed for others to step up. When Paul was injured, the rest of the guys stepped up. Maybe, this is another opportunity for the guys to step up.”
The Game 3 victory helps Rain or Shine stay true to its plan of making the series longer, which in turn would also force the main guys of San Miguel, particularly Fajardo, to wear out in the end.
“Winning tonight extends the series, whatever happens. Now, we have to play at least six games,” he said. “We’re just trying to wear them down. We outlasted them in this game. All throughout the fourth quarter, we were just keeping our heads above water and try to hang on, and hopefully, again, they will wear out.
That’s what happened. We kept the pace quick. If they can keep up, so be it. If now, we’re lucky. That’s the simplest way I can put it.”