Yeng Guiao’s return to the Rain or Shine bench has sparked excitement among the young players in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Rey Nambatac, for one, was serving as the top gun of the Elasto Painters, but he evolved into an all-around player when the seven-time champion coach re-assumed the coaching role at the start of the Commissioner’s Cup.
“I was so excited, the first time Coach Yeng joined us at practice,” Nambatac told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.
“I just felt that with him, I’ll have more opportunities to learn and become a better basketball player.”
Under Guiao, Nambatac’s offensive production went down.
In the past two conferences under Chris Gavina, Nambatac was the go-to-guy in offense, averaging 15.35 points, 4.15 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.
Both conferences, however, ended up in disappointment as the Elasto Painters got the boot early.
This season, Nambatac had taken the backseat offensively, averaging 12.5 points, grabbing 4.2 rebounds and issuing 3.2 assists, but more than that, he had played an active role on defense.
But Nambatac takes the hit positively.
“It means that other players are stepping up and helping out offensively,” Nambatac said.
“Before, 70 or 80 percent of the time, I’ll have the ball and our offense becomes more predictable. This time, everybody’s doing their share, which is good for the team.”
Andrei Caracut, on the other hand, admitted that he felt star-struck the moment he first saw Guiao at practice.
“It’s like seeing a celebrity or an icon,” Caracut said.
“And the moment we started practicing and days went by, you’ve developed that feeling that this guy will have your back no matter what.”
“Everybody was so excited at practice and they’re so excited going to practice as we all know that all of us will be given equal opportunities. Everyone will have a chance to start for the team.”
True enough, Caracut’s game had elevated.
The third-year guard averaged 9.3 points on close to 36 percent shooting from beyond the arc while also dishing out 3.1 assists per game.
But what’s more noticeable was Caracut’s willingness to take the big shot.
And it was definitely pleasing for Guiao.
“To my recollection, this is a younger team than I handled before. This team still has the players I handled when we last won the championship and that’s the only reason why this current team is getting older,” Guiao said in jest.
Turning serious, Guiao gave credit to his predecessors, coaches Caloy Garcia and Gavina in laying down the good foundation in creating this squad.
“I rarely get mad at these young players. I only get mad only when it’s necessary,” Guiao said.
“As you get older, you want to avoid showing a lot of emotions as it might give you a heart attack.”
“But we also have to give credit to coaches Caloy and Chris for laying down the good foundation of this team. No one in this team is a headcase, so they should be given credit for that. As for the future of this team, I could say that there’s a bright future for this team and the playoff run could be the start of it.”