AFTER getting his first official win as Petron’s head coach, Gee Abanilla faces an acid test as he takes on former boss Yeng Guiao when the Boosters collide with defending champion Rain or Shine on Friday in the PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Abanilla nailed his first win as a PBA coach on Sunday when he led Petron to a 101-95 win over sister team Barangay Ginebra but the former La Salle mentor said there’s still a long way to go for him and the team.
“This is the first time I’d be the head coach. There’s a lot of expectation from our team so it’s a big challenge for us as coaches,” Abanilla said.
Abanilla, who once served as Guiao’s deputy when they were still with Red Bull, has loads of talent to work on with locals Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, June Fajarado, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Lutz leading the way.
However, Rain or Shine’s talent, physicality and scrappy play can make things difficult for Petron.
“There's some chemistry issues for us with June Mar and Doug (Kramer) coming in late because the last game, we were just standing (in defense). We were not used to seeing the ball with June Mar inside,” explained the Petron mentor, who succeeded Olsen Racela more than a month ago.
For Guiao, their 2-0 record works well for them this early in the short nine-game elimination round format.
He also said they are not in a rush to break in key players Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan to the team after their memorable stint with Gilas Pilipinas recently.
“It’s nice to get these wins early as we try to get Gabe and Jeff back to our regular rhythm,” said Guiao. “Gaganda pa ang laro ng team pag nakukuha na nila ang system.”
Do-it-all reinforcement Arizona Reid, a one-time PBA Best Import awardee, will be going up against Petron’s athletic import Elijah Millsap, who has been doing a little of everything with his averages of 24 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 block in 40 minutes of play.
The 6-4 Reid is averaging 27.5 points, 18.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists after two games with the Painters.