FOR all the right reasons, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and his players showed up at the Mall of Asia Arena during Game One of the NCAA Finals between defending champion San Beda and Letran.
Dressed in a Letran shirt, the multi-titled mentor joined other members of the Elasto Painters in Letran's side of the gallery at the Mall of Asia Arena as they showed their support for Knights star Raymond Almazan in his bid to end his collegiate career with a championship.
Almazan was recently tabbed by Rain or Shine as the No. 3 overall pick in the recent PBA Draft.
Aside from showing support to Almazan and the Letran coaching staff led by Caloy Garcia – who also happens to be part of Rain or Shine’s workforce at the bench – Guiao disclosed he’s also a Knight by heart having spent his grade school years in the Dominican-run school.
“Madaming reasons why I'm here. Of course, we're supporting our number three pick (si Raymond), we are also supporting coach Caloy Garcia and the coaching staff as they are also a part of the Rain or Shine team,” he said.
“But a lot of people don't know that I studied grade school in Letran Intramuros, so maraming dahilan kung bakit ako nandito, pinagsama-sama lang,” said Guiao, who played college ball for the University of the Philippines Maroons.
The fiery mentor was joined at ringside by Rain or Shine players Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibañez, JR Quiñahan, and Chris Tiu.
“Napag-usapan kasi namin sa team na susuportahan si coach Caloy and the coaching staff and si Raymond,” said Guiao.
Belga once played in the NCAA for Philippine Christian University and was part of the Dolphins team that won the title in 2004 together with Jayson Castro and Gabby Espinas.
Unfortunately, the Knights lost the series opener to the Red Lions, 80-68.
Just like in the PBA, Guiao expects action in the Finals to be very physical game.
“Any Finals game is going to be physical, expected talaga 'yun. So you just have to be physically and mentally tough to manage the (physicality),” the first-year representative of Pampanga said.
“But this series is going to be a close series and I expect that all the way. Baka umabot ng Game Three and it will still be a close series, not because meron kaming personal na sinusuportahan, but any basketball fan would love it to be extended to Game Three.”
For this rare moment, Guiao just enjoyed being a spectator as he didn't bother to give any advice to both Almazan and Garcia.
“Wala, wala akong advice sa kanila, malalaki na 'yang mga 'yan. Alam na nila ang gagawin nila. I have full trust in them,” he said.
“Basta, Arriba Letran!”