TRUTH be told, coach Yeng Guiao wanted to have a full-blown Rain or Shine reunion in the 2018 Asian Games.
The newly-appointed national team coach for the continental showpiece admitted he wanted to get his old band back together for one final time, this time with their goal of making the country proud in the international stage.
“One reason na gusto ko yung guys who are familiar with me is because of the lack of time,” he said, pointing out he’ll only have eight days to work with with deputy Caloy Garcia before the start of the men’s basketball competitions in Indonesia.
“They know my system, they know my personality, and I know them in return so mas mapapabilis namin yung chemistry, yung flow ng team, yung cohesion ng team.” added the former Rain or Shine coach.
Magnolia star Paul Lee was on top of Guiao’s wishlist for the squad and the fiery mentor acknowledged how valuable the Tondo dribbler’s piece was in completing the puzzle.
“Malaking bagay,” he said, looking forward to seeing Lee partner anew with former Rain or Shine teammates Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, Chris Tiu, and Maverick Ahanmisi, as well as TNT forward Don Trollano.
That group were together in Guiao’s fruitful campaign with the Elasto Painters, with those seven a part of the team’s run to its the last of its championships in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But those weren’t the lone players Guiao had in his mind, with him rattling off the names of Jericho Cruz, Jeff Chan, and JR Quinahan.
“I tried to get Jericho, pero ang naging problema kay Jericho, injured pa sya,” he said of the Saipan-born guard, who is still recovering from a fractured right finger.
“I tried to get Jeff Chan din, pero nasa finals pa siya,” as his former trusted gunner is still with Ginebra, which is in the heat of the battle against San Miguel in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship series.
Quinahan was also in consideration, but Guiao put premium on guys who he believes can “put up some kind of a matchup” against players like Iranian giant Hamed Haddadi.
“We needed the bigs. If you’re going to international competition, you need good big men and buti na lang, nasama si Poy Erram at si Christian Standhardinger. Nandyan naman si Beau, si Almazan, at nandyan si Asi (Taulava). I think we have enough quality big men to compete,” he said.
“I don’t see any problem also with the rest of the guys coming from the outside (of Rain or Shine). I think we’ll be ready.”
Completing the squad are former two-time MVP James Yap, GlobalPort guard Stanley Pringle, and cadets Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero.