Guiao: Oftana deserved to take winning shot for NLEX
MANILA, Philippines—Yeng Guiao has always had the penchant for putting rookies into game-defining situations and that was no different when he chose Calvin Oftana to win it for NLEX.
The Road Warriors were seconds away from elimination in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals when Guiao chose Oftana for the game-winning play that gave them the 81-80 victory over second seed Meralco at DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Oftana made a hard cut to the basket as he received Jericho Cruz’ inbound pass with 6.1 seconds to deliver NLEX the win.
— PBA (@pbaconnect) September 29, 2021
Guiao said that Oftana, the third overall pick in the recent rookie draft, is already deserving of all the opportunities that he’s been given and it’s up to the San Beda product to prove he’s fit to take the responsibility.
“They deserve that opportunity to put the game in their hands, especially the way Calvin played the last time, I know he’s already being schemed on and teams already have ways to defend him,” said Guiao, a man known to give opportunities to his rookies and seldom-used players.
Guiao once gave supreme trust to a then rookie Larry Fonacier in big-game situations during their time with Red Bull in 2006.
The former Philippine national team coach also used to put rookies like Josan Nimes and Jeric Teng in important playoff games during his stint with Rain or Shine while giving ample playing time to role players Philip Paniamogan and Kenneth Ighalo in NLEX.
Guiao had a conversation with Oftana the night prior to the Meralco game, telling the rookie that while he may not be able to replicate his performance the last time time the two teams met–where the versatile forward had 34 points on eight three-pointers–he could help still his team win in other ways.
“I told him you’re probably not gonna score 34 points but there are other ways in winning so I guess it’s not really me giving them a chance it’s them proving they deserve a chance,” said Guiao.
While NLEX won’t have star Kiefer Ravena for the duration of the playoffs, as the combo guard is now in the B.League with the Shiga Lakestars, Guiao may have found his new crunch-time operator.
“We are lucky to draft him. Actually that last play, if we still had Kiefer with us, that would’ve been for Kiefer,” said Guiao. “But he stepped into the shoes of Kiefer.”
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