Yeng Guiao’s arrival as head coach of Rain or Shine will tilt the balance of power slightly in favor of independent teams when the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup unwraps on 21 September at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao said he takes pride in coaching an independent team like the Elasto Painters, knowing that they have what it takes to upset squads under the umbrellas of the country’s biggest conglomerates – the San Miguel Corporation and the Manny Pangilinan Group.
Guiao has always been an underdog.
He started his coaching career with Swift before joining Mobiline and Red Bull, a rag-tag team which he turned into a serious contender with Lordy Tugade, Willie Miller, Junthy Valenzuela and Davonn Harp as key players.
Nine years later, he joined Air21 before coaching Rain or Shine, leading it to the 2012 Governors’ Cup and 2016 Commissioner’s Cup titles.
In fact, since winning the midseason crown in 2016, no independent team had emerged victorious with SMC teams winning 13 titles in the last 14 conferences while TNT Tropang Giga won the Philippine Cup crown last year.
The Tropang Giga had a chance to win another crown in the previous All-Filipino Conference, but San Miguel Beer spoiled their plan and dealt them a 4-3 setback in the finals.
In Guiao’s 15 conferences with Rain or Shine, he won two titles and made it to the finals six times. He also had a string of 12 straight playoffs appearances and only got eliminated twice during his tenure as coach.
Guiao’s run with independent teams ended in 2016 when NLEX tapped him as head coach.
He called the shots for the Red Warriors for six years and turned rotation players like Cliff Hodge, Raul Soyud, Don Trollano and Michael Miranda into quality talents.
He, however, couldn’t replicate the success he had with the Elasto Painters as various setbacks hounded him, including the departure of his players to sister team TNT Tropang Giga.
But now that he’s back with the Elasto Painters, Guiao stressed that it’s about time for independent teams like them to be taken seriously and give teams under bigger companies a good fight.
“I take pride in coaching an independent team and it gives you some sort of motivation and the challenge to compete against the giant companies that own multiple teams,” Guiao said.
“We know that our compensation is not as high as teams from bigger companies so there’s a slight disadvantage there.”
Aside from Rain or Shine, other independent teams are Blackwater, Terrafirma, NorthPort, Phoenix and Converge.
Before, the role of being a top dog among independent teams belong to Alaska led by team owner Wildred Uytengsu, who is not afraid to speak his mind.
But with the Aces gone, it looks like Guiao and the Elasto Painters will carry the fight for independent teams.
Guiao said he is ready for the challenge.
“The strong teams get even stronger,” he said.
“But we’re going to challenge them. We’re going to give them a very good fight.”
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