Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is excited to work with his former player in James Yap when they play in the Governors’ Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association starting 22 January.
Guiao said he has always been at the opposing end during the peak of Yap’s legendary career so their partnership at the Elasto Painters is very special to him.
The pair are no longer strangers to each other.
Guiao, a seven-time PBA champion mentor, was able to handle Yap when he coached the national team in the FIBA Asia Championship in 2009.
Five years ago, Guiao also coached Yap along with the replacements who took over the spots of suspended national team members to play for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.
This time, the situation between Guiao and Yap is different as the 40-year-old Yap is already at the tail-end of his career and has been idle from competitive basketball since assuming a more challenging role as city councilor of San Juan.
“The conditions were different when I had the privilege of coaching James Yap before compared to today,” Guiao told Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview.
“But he’s actually more mature now. He’s actually more cognizant of the present condition, part of your maturity is realizing that you’re not young anymore and not as physically equipped or in top shape when you’re younger.”
Guiao said Yap’s wisdom, leadership and veteran experience will be a major boost to the young Elasto Painters.
“But whatever is lacking now physically in a maturing player, he compensates with his wisdom, decision-making, experience and leadership,” he said.
“Those are the things James brings to the team.”
Guiao said he believes that there is still a lot of gas left in Yap’s tank, similar to other players whom he handled during the twilight of their careers.
“You can see in practice that he’s got terrific hands and shoots the basketball so well,” Guiao said.
“He’s deadly. He can score. He still makes good decisions and will continue to create problems for the defense. All these things are still in James’ game.”
“The only question is how long can he last? Are his reflexes still as good as before? But he remains competitive and can still be utilized.”
For Yap, it’s a reunion that excites him more, hoping that a proven winner like Guiao could be able to resuscitate his level of play.
“He was my coach in the national teams before. I’m very excited,” Yap said.
“I know Coach Yeng loves the way I play, that’s the reason why he included me in the national teams in the past. His system is a good fit for my game.”
“Now that he’s back with Rain or Shine, I need to be in tip-top shape and not let him down.”