After getting modest goal, Yeng, Painters have mission impossible next
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao conceded that his young team faces literally a tall order to get past the juggernaut that is Bay Area after the Elasto Painters got the job done in getting the last quarterfinals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Masyado silang malakas (They’re just too good),” Guiao said after booting out his former team, NLEX, with a 110-100 win in their KO match on Sunday at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Guiao has reasons to feel like getting a spot in the next phase of the midseason conference is a punishment instead of reward for how a young team he inherited following his homecoming last September was able to catch the last bus.
Odds are already stacked against Rain or Shine, with Bay Area almost dominating the elimination round by going 10-2, with one of its victories being a 33-point shellacking of its eventual quarterfinal foe last Nov. 11 in Antipolo City.
It was in that game that Rain or Shine paraded import Ryan Pearson as replacement for Steve Taylor Jr. and Pearson left a not-so-good first impression. Pearson has since proved doubters wrong as seen in the quarterfinal clincher where he scored 24 points.
“Thirty-three points lamang nila, siguro 30 na lang sa susunod (They won by 33 points, maybe it will be 30 in the next game),” Guiao joked, but praised Pearson for slowly shaking off those early jitters to become a good fit for Rain or Shine.
The two teams meet on Friday, also at PhilSports, with the Dragons also adding more dilemma to the Elasto Painters’ long shot bid for an upset as the team with the twice-to-beat advantage.
“We’re a small team compared to them. If only I could turn Andrei [Caracut] into a 7-foot-5 player on Friday so we can match up with their 7-foot-5 player (Liu Chuanxing),” Guiao said, pointing at the sophomore guard who produced a career-high 19 points.
But even as he has virtually thrown the white towel, Guiao is delighted that his return to the franchise he once guided to two championships was able to meet its modest goal.
The Elasto Painters somewhat overachieved after suffering early exits the past two conferences, with the likes of Caracut, Gian Mamuyac and Anton Asistio among the youngsters who flourished under the veteran mentor.
“We find it really meaningful that we were able to reach this point, especially since we are only together for a short time,” Guiao said. “NLEX, Meralco and TNT are strong teams, but weren’t able to make it.”
The Road Warriors’ defeat marked a dubious first as all three teams under Manny V. Pangilinan failed to make the quarterfinals, joining the TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts. INQ
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