First for Rain or Shine
AFTER a six-year wait, Rain or Shine finally became a PBA champion Sunday night, using the mind game, through coach Yeng Guiao, as its biggest weapon against a foe many thought was unconquerable.
“I thought that the only advantage we had was we probably got into their heads,” Guiao told scribes in the din of the celebration announcing the long overdue breakthrough of Rain or Shine as a PBA winner.
Guiao said he believed B-Meg couldn’t take the physical pounding of the series, even though the Llamados themselves announced in their team shirts that they were heading into the best-of-seven title series as the tough guys.
The firebrand coach also pointed to the fact that it was his counterpart, Tim Cone, who literally asked the referees for help after just one game.
By that time, Guiao said he knew where they were hurting the Llamados, literally and figuratively.
“I took advantage of that, rubbed it in (mind of B-Meg) and gave our guys some confidence at that point,” he said, referring to Cone’s post-Game 1 plea to the referees that came with Guiao telling the world that his Painters’ toughness doesn’t come from just their shirts.
And then there was the “we will still win this series with or without Paul Lee” statement which was immortalized by the Governors’ Cup title.
“They (Llamados) had more talent than we did,” Guiao, who also won titles with Swift/Pop Cola and Red Bull, continued. “We played it psychologically.”
Rain or Shine completed a 4-3 triumph over fancied B-Meg with a Game 7 victory to remember, a conquest he announced coming even though he lost Lee, the year’s top rookie and his best local player, to an injury in the waning minutes of Game 2.
“After Game 6, I thought I was going to be a fool. I was just trying to express my belief in the team, to perk them up and psych them up to play harder,” Guiao said when reminded of his bold prediction. “And they did.”
Guiao also saw a personal six-year title-less spell come to a halt and put himself in esteemed company by joining the ranks of Baby Dalupan, Tommy Manotoc and Chot Reyes as the only coaches to win championships with three different teams.
Dalupan did it with Crispa, Great Taste and Purefoods; Manotoc won with U-tex, Royal Tru-Orange and Crispa and Reyes won with Coca-Cola, San Miguel and Talk ‘N Text.
Jeff Chan, after finishing the series with averages of almost 12 points and three rebounds in 32 minutes, was also a huge winner individually after being unanimously chosen as the Cinnabon-PBA Press Corps’ Finals MVP that went with the season’s Most Improved Player award he won before Game 4.
Rain or Shine also became the first team in league history to win a championship in a Game 7 in its first try, in the process becoming just the fourth franchise to nail a title in its maiden Finals appearance.
One of those teams, Red Bull in the 2001 Governors Cup, was also handled by Guiao.
The rubber match that drew a crowd of almost 22,000 turned a prophet out of Guiao and the birth of several stars who are expected to carve their niches in the league in the years to come.
Rain or Shine is also expected to contend for many more championships in the future, but right now, the most important thing for Raymund Yu, who co-owns the team with Terry Que, was the new status Guiao and his boys gave his squad.
“Thank you for giving this team an identity (as a champion).” Yu told Guiao after the awarding ceremony.