Seven seasons removed as coach of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, multi-titled coach Yeng Guiao is back as head mentor of the team he led to two championships and turned to become a consistent playoff performer.
But Guiao is inheriting a team that has failed to make it to the playoffs in back-to-back conferences.
It didn’t take long for the Elasto Painters to get themselves settled to the system of Guiao, who was surprised to see the fast progress of the team he had just coached for barely three weeks. Rain or Shine’s 93-71 beat down of Ginebra is an indication of promising things to come for this young unit.
“This is a really good bunch of guys. The veterans, Beau (Belga), Jewel (Ponferada) and Gabe (Norwood), they already know how I coach, how I want this team to look like. But these young guys, they’re absorbing it like a sponge. I don’t know sometimes, if I talk, I don’t know if they’re listening or they’re just quiet and daydreaming. I feel they try to absorb everything what we try to impart to them,” said Guiao.
“The progress is fast and I hope this is for real because sometimes you play a good game then you play a bad game the next one. I hope this is for real.”
For the second straight game, it was the young guys – sophomores Leonard Santillan, Andrei Caracut and Anton Asistio and a little bit of everything from the team’s acknowledged top gun, Rey Nambatac – who presided on the Elasto Painters’ offense.
Of course, Steve Taylor Jr. stepped up big for Rain or Shine during its decisive win over Ginebra, as his 16 first-quarter points set the tone for the rout.
The ability of the young players to adapt to Guiao’s system makes the veteran mentor more confident of its chances to make a playoff return even at this early part of the tournament – and for a better reason.
“I’m feeling good about our team because, we’ve been practicing for barely three weeks together. Steve came in maybe more than a week. The upside is really good. We think that we can go deep into the playoffs and this win gives us the confidence to do that. We just have to work harder in practice, improve ourselves,” added Guiao.
And if Guiao can preserve Nambatac for the tough grind and see the rest of the cast stepping up, the Elasto Painters can become the dark horse in the Commissioner’s Cup.
“There were times last season or even last conference when the team has become reliant more on Nambatac. I think we need to preserve him when we need him the most. He needs to come in fresh in the fourth quarter to be able to help our team more,” added Guiao.
Nambatac is still trying to break into Guiao’s system and in the first two games, he has averaged only eight points per game, six points less than its average last season.
Guiao believes it’s only a matter of time before the lefty gunner regain his bearings.