PBA: Yeng Guiao admits Rain or Shine faces daunting task vs ‘too strong’ Bay Area
MANILA, Philippines—Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao has scaled mountains before, but the fiery champion coach feels there’s nothing as colossal as going up against Bay Area, the top seed of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“I don’t think you can have a good enough preparation against a team like that,” he said shortly after NLEX tabbed the No. 8 seed at the expense of his former club NLEX, 110-100, at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Sunday night.
“They have an advantage in every aspect: Import, height, and cohesion. They’ve been together in a hotel. I mean, their camaraderie and their chemistry should be off the charts. And I couldn’t think of any strategy that will work against that. I don’t even know how we’re going to beat them. They’re just too strong,” he went on.
As if a twice-to-win disadvantage isn’t daunting enough, Rain or Shine will have to battle a visiting crew that has been standing head and shoulders above the entire league.
The Dragons have been nothing but mighty throughout the midseason showcase, racking up 10 wins in the elimination phase and winning games by a margin of 23.4 points.
Guiao, a former national coach and ex-commissioner of the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League, also pointed out how Bay Area is built in a way vastly different from PBA teams.
“(The Dragons) are a selection, they’re not a team,” he rued. “How many did they wait to draft someone like Kobey Lam? How many years did it take for them to draft Zhu (Songwei)? And, who’s that again, their 7-foot-5 player? Liu (Chuanxing).
“Us here waited (for years). For them, it’s instant. When they arrived they were complete. Before we can have a complete team, we have to wait for years. (The league) could’ve allowed us to use two imports to make things interesting because whenever (local teams) play them, it’s a blowout. They beat us by 50, 30 points. We’re being embarrassed in our own league,” Guiao added.
Of the 10 clubs Bay Area took down, five were won by 25 points or more: Terrafirma (54 points), Blackwater (46) TNT (32), and San Miguel Beer (26). Rounding out that cast are the Painters, who were crushed by 33 points.
Bay Area only lost to crowd darling Barangay Ginebra, and a KJ McDaniels-powered Meralco. And as things stand, the Dragons lead the league in scoring with an average of 111.9 points scored. They have proven to be quite fearsome on defense as well, allowing an average of 94.2 points, second only to Magnolia.
However, it is also worth noting that five other local teams managed to keep it close against the Dragons. Phoenix lost by just 10 points. Converge and Magnolia both lost by just six. NorthPort, who have given up a lot of their promising stars to marquee clubs, even managed to go down by just a hairline.
For all his defeatist rhetoric, Guiao assured that Painters—laden with PBA newcomers——will still try to compete in the series that gets going this Friday.
“There are just inherent advantages that you can’t [manufacture] through a game plan—like size, right?” he pointed out. “But of course, we’ll try to stay in [the game] as long as we can.”
Rey Nambatac, who dealt the finishing blows against the Road Warriors during the you-or-me clash that night, acknowledges the herculean task ahead. But he is also no stranger to steep treks.
“During our last meeting, we pretty much gave up late in the second quarter. We fell apart early,” he said. “But that’s what we’re going to study. We have five days to prepare. We wanted this.”
“Bilog ang bola. That is surely a David and Goliath kind of game. But nothing is impossible unless we try,” Nambatac went on.
“And oh, I hope we hit our outside shots. I think that’s the only way for us to prevail since they’re big. I hope our shots connect this Friday.”