Yeng Guiao’s impact on Rain or Shine is now being felt barely a week since assuming the coaching duties heading into the Commissioner’s Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Nick Demusis said he is thrilled to play for the seven-time champion coach as he can use all the lessons he will gain to further enhance his young basketball career.
“We’re now seeing the Yeng Guiao Effect,” said the Filipino-American swingman at the sidelines of the Elasto Painters’ friendly duel with Changwon LG Sakers late Thursday at Kerry Sports in Taguig.
“You can tell that everybody is excited to play.”
True enough, after returning to the Elasto Painters from a five-year stint with NLEX, Guiao had already warmed up and is now more comfortable with the scheme of things with the young squad.
He said he likes how the Elasto Painters have responded to the new system, giving him a reason to believe that they can compete with bigger, more seasoned foes.
“It is a new system, of course,” the 63-year-old Guiao said.
“They are running the system for just a week, but they’re getting the hang of it. It just needs a little polishing. I’m very positive we can get better. We can compete with the big teams.”
He added that his young team has what it takes to emerge as a strong contender.
The team that Guiao had taken over is no longer the same squad that he led to the Commissioner’s Cup title in 2016.
In fact, only three players remained from that champion squad in Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Jewel Ponferada, but Guiao still believes that young guns like Gian Mamuyac, Rey Nambatac, Shaun Ildefonso, Leonard Santillan and Andrei Caracut can compete with the heavyweights.
“I like the energy of the young players. I think that’s a good foundation to build on,” he said.
“They’re energetic, they’re aggressive, they’re enthusiastic with the new environment. We hope to capitalize on that. Plus, we see a lot of upside on this young team. You just have to toughen them up, tweak them in the training.”
Against the Korean club, Rain or Shine import Steve Taylor Jr. showed up, but Guiao opted to preserve him for their upcoming training sessions in preparation for the midseason conference starting 21 November.
Taylor will take over the spot of Daniel Ochefu, who failed to meet the expectations of the veteran bench tactician.
“He’s a very versatile import — he can post up, has solid inside game, he can shoot from the three-point region, he has good handles and can dribble the ball,” Guiao stressed.
“He also had good passing skills and then, he is a big man who can switch. He can switch on the guards and contain them. So those are the things we’re looking and he has that. But you cannot be 100 percent sure until you see him play in actual game.”
Still, Guiao is excited over the progress that he has been seeing on the Elasto Painters, giving him no reason to deviate from his familiar equal-opportunity mindset.
“That’s always the trademark of the teams that I coached. I told everybody that everybody is going to be given a chance, so it’s up to you what to do with that chance. It’s not going to be my fault if I give you an opportunity and you’re not ready to get that break,” he said.
“We’ve seen how each player wanted to prove that they want to be given playing time. At least they’re trying.”