AN injury-riddled Rain or Shine team is now benefitting from the ploy of coach Yeng Guiao to maximize the use of the team’s entire bench.
Fil-Am guard Gabe Norwood said team chemistry and the ability of Guiao to spread out the playing minutes on the entire Elasto Painters helped them to stay competitive notwithstanding the injuries on three key players.
“That’s the benefit of being in this team. Coach Yeng uses everybody. He doesn’t stress a lot of minutes on one player,” said Norwood after Rain or Shine rallied back from a 15-point deficit to nip expansion ballclub Blackwater, 82-75, in the PBA Philippine Cup Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Norwood just came back from a two-week US vacation and played his first game with the team, unmindful of the effects of jetlag that limited him to just 18 minutes of play and finished with seven points, a rebound, and a steal.
But with guards Paul Lee (hyper-extended knee) and Chris Tiu (hamstring) out of commission, the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart is determined to get back into shape and contribute right away for the team.
A third backcourt player in Ryan Arana left the game against Blackwater after hurting his back.
“Started right to practice (after arriving Tuesday night), got back to work. That’s my job, but we’re gonna try to hold the fort, grind out the win until we’re 100 percent and try to put us in a good position for the playoffs,” he said.
“They (Elite) came out and played well. We didn’t play the game we wanted to play,” said the George Mason University alumnus of Rain or Shine’s showing against Blackwater that saw the Elasto Painters go 0-for-25 from beyond the arc.
“I’ve been with all these guys. I think the chemistry’s fine, it’s just me trying to get back to 100 percent game shape,” explained the 6-foot-5 athletic guard, who skipped resting in the off season to play for the national team in the Fiba World Cup in Spain and Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Rain or Shine takes a four-day break before returning to action next Wednesday when it plays Kia Motors also at the Big Dome.