Rain or Shine is facing an ultimate test when it battles Bay Area in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said save for having a little homecourt edge, they don’t have any advantage over the Dragons, who are being powered by a collection of international players with an Olympian as head coach and former National Basketball Association stalwarts as imports.
“Maybe the homecourt advantage as Filipinos love the underdogs,” said Guiao, who guided the Elasto Painters back to the quarterfinal round after missing the playoffs the past two conferences.
“But Bay Area has been here quite long enough and Filipinos love novelty as well. Plus, they are also being supported by the Filipino-Chinese community here, so they have already developed a fan base.”
After a long stint with NLEX, Guiao returned to Rain or Shine to replace Chris Gavina, who assumed a head coaching role in the T1 League in Taiwan.
Guiao hit the ground running and propelled the Elasto Painters to the quarterfinals via a 110-100 victory over his former team.
With that, they gained the right to face topseed Bay Area, which is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, in the next round on Friday at the Philsports Arena.
Guiao believes that slaying the Dragons from Hong Kong is the toughest test of his more than three-decade coaching career.
“I’ve never faced a player standing 7-foot-5 and I’ve never coached against a player who scores 50 points playing together,” Guiao told Daily Tribune.
“So, I think this is the toughest test I’m facing in my coaching career.”
Guiao was referring to Liu Chanxing, a member of the Chinese men’s national team, as well as Myles Powell, who erupted for 50 points in just three quarters of play when they crushed the Elasto Painters, 120-87, in their first encounter on 11 November.
Even Andrew Nicholson, a fellow NBA veteran, has also scored 50 points in one game.
Powell, who has yet to lose in his eight games with the Dragons, averaged 37.3 points per outing aside from being among the top three leaders in steals with two per match.
In four games playing for Bay Area, Nicholson won two and lost two, but the 6-foot-10 center averaged 38.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and a steady 94.3 percent shooting from the free throw area.
Any of the two imports will be a match up problem for the Elasto Painters.
“Whatever preparation you make against Bay Area, they have an advantage in all aspects — they have an advantage in the import, they have an advantage in size, all they do is be together, sleep in the hotel, they’re together,” Guiao said.
“They have a strong camaraderie, they have a strong chemistry.”