Gavina: We’re going to let our players loose this season
Chris Gavina, Rain or Shine’s newly-promoted head coach, is not keen on introducing anything drastic to the team.
In fact, he just hopes to apply just a couple of tweaks to what his predecessor Caloy Garcia had planned for the coming season.
“Stylistically, coach Caloy really had a vision of opening up the floor this year, using athleticism and speed, the length of our guys,” Gavina said in the Coaches Unfiltered podcast late Wednesday night.
“I’m thinking of really just keeping that in mind and possibly going a little bit more dribble-drive right into our flow action, and kind of empowering guys with decision-making,” he said.
“We’re going to let [the players] loose a little bit.”
Gavina believes Rain or Shine’s current squad is more than capable of doing so, as the team is filled with several players—young and tested—who can play multiple positions.
“[T]he versatility of our players, their length—those will give us an opportunity to be kind of creative with our lineups. We can go small ball. We can have a 6 foot 5 point guard in Gabe (Norwood). We also have a Mark Borboran who could play at the four or five for us. Norbert Torres is highly mobile. Beau (Belga) is mobile,” he said.
“We also have guys who are great with the open floor. We have (Rey) Nambatac, we have (Javee) Mocon, Now, we have our young guys (Vince) Tolentino and (Adrian) Wong who are extremely athletic players who could really finish,” the 42-year-old mentor, whose coached Kia to the franchise’s only quarterfinal stint, added.
The young Gavina said he will still bank on the crafty Nambatac, and still hope to turn to veteran James Yap come playoff time.
And the pesky defense that the Painters are known for? That stays untouched, too.
Rain or Shine was easily the best defensive team during the 2020 Philippine Cup in the Clark Freeport bubble, norming 4.6 blocks and just allowing an average of 80.8 points, both league-best marks.
Garcia, according to Gavina, is a massive part of that.
“Coach Caloy just really set great foundations with regards to our defensive schemes—the defensive rules that guys abide by,” he said.
“We’re probably one of the more unconventional teams where we make jump switches from anywhere—from the corner, from the wing. That’s kind of the unpredictability of our defensive schemes and it has kept teams on their heels. That has worked for us,” Gavina added.
“Guys [bought] in, because that’s what coach Caloy has set up, and I’ve been privileged to kind of learn a lot from that.”
If anything, Gavina’s other focus is to make sure the team won’t again fall into the perilous trap of being complacent with regards to conditioning, as the possibility of holding another bubble tournament is not entirely off the table.
“We felt that some of our guys had to get in shape while they were in there. And that’s one of the main things we’re taking into this season,” Gavina said.
And with a deeper playoff run in mind, Gavina is hoping that Rain or Shine could get someone who could help in the cause in the form of their fifth overall pick in the PBA Rookie Draft this March 14.
“With the way our ownership, our management are looking at, we want to get a high-character guy. A highly competitive [player],” he said.
“I think (Calvin) Oftana stands out. (Larry) Muyang is one heck of a talent. Mikey Williams, obviously. We’re hoping (Jason) Brickman could be a possible option for us. Jeremiah Gray, too. If these Fil-Ams get in, it’s going to be a really deep draft for us.”