Yeng Guiao is temporarily setting aside personal feelings with a former team he’ll try to eliminate for a chance to punch Rain or Shine’s ticket to the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“I don’t wanna dwell on personal circumstances,” Guiao said as the Elasto Painters take on the NLEX Road Warriors in a playoff for the No. 8 seed which tips off at 6:30 p.m. at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The winner gets the last seat in the next stage of the midseason conference and a grueling task of needing to beat the top seed Bay Area Dragons twice in a row to advance.
While the dramatic subplot to this one-game showdown will be Guiao’s attempt to send home the team he handled from 2016 until this season’s Philippine Cup, the mercurial coach is simply focused on achieving what he set out to do when he decided to make a homecoming to the franchise he piloted to its two PBA titles.
“It’s just another game,” he said of the match against his former squad. “It’s just another chance for us to make the next round. It’s been a while since this team has reached the quarterfinals. If we make the next round, that’s already going to be an improvement.”
This will be Rain or Shine’s second chance at sealing a place in the quarterfinals. The Elasto Painters blew their first crack last Friday, when they squandered an 11-point lead as the Magnolia Hotshots put up a big fourth quarter to forge a 106-90 victory.
Rain or Shine finished the eliminations at 5-7 in a tie with NLEX, which came out of nowhere to gain an opportunity to make the quarterfinals via the backdoor.
NLEX’s transition from Guiao to Frankie Lim had been tough, when a 2-0 start that included a win over Rain or Shine, 96-90, was followed by a 1-7 record.
But facing elimination, Lim suddenly steered NLEX to stunning wins over Barangay Ginebra and Meralco behind import Earl Clark and Don Trollano to keep ownership’s hopes of avoiding a dubious first.
A loss by NLEX will mark the first time all three teams under Manny V. Pangilinan will miss the quarterfinal after TNT and Meralco, semifinalists in the Philippine Cup, slumped to similar 4-8 records.
“They’re playing well, at least better now,” Guiao said of the Road Warriors. “Maybe they’re getting their rhythm and getting used to a new system. So it’s going to be a challenge.”
Guiao has tagged Clark as perhaps the player Rain or Shine hopes to contain. The former NBA player’s performance surged during NLEX’s mini-streak, firing 37 against Ginebra and going for 40 in eliminating Meralco from contention last Wednesday.