RAIN or Shine will be without four key players when it makes its PBA Governors Cup debut in a game against the Air21 Express on Tuesday.
Worse, coach Yeng Guiao also won't be around.
Elasto Painters officials have confirmed that Guiao will miss out on the Air21 game since he is out of the country to attend to business matters. He won't be returning until Thursday afternoon.
"Umalis siya kahapon ng umaga eh, Huwebes ang balik ng hapon. Pero binilin na niya lahat sa coaching staff ang gagawin mamaya,” said a high-ranking Rain or Shine official.
Assistant coach Caloy Garcia confirmed to Spin.ph that Guiao will be missing Rain or Shine's conference debut, saying he has already been assigned the task of manning the team’s bench.
“May kailangan kasing puntahan abroad si Coach Yeng eh. Kaya ako muna ulit ang designated coach ng team,” said Garcia.
Air21 hasn't won a game against the Raymund Yu-Terry Que franchise since 2011, but Garcia considers the Express the favorites this time after the team's dream run in the last Commissioner's Cup where it got within a win of a maiden finals appearance.
Worse, back-up guard Chris Tiu is still out with an MCL injury and will not be available until Friday, the same day hardworking wingman Jervy Cruz is expected to return from a knee injury.
Jeric Teng is also questionable as he is still nursing a ‘jumper’s knee' while big man JR Quinahan is already out for the conference after undergoing surgery during the last Commissioner’s cup.
“Wala, talagang undermanned kami. We just have to come out stronger and hope all the guys we will utilize will click,” said the soft-spoken Garcia, who is also the head coach of PBA D-League team Hogs Breath Café.
“Air 21 will not be an easy opponent especially now that they have a very high morale. Imagine, they were able to give San Mig a scare in the last semis,” he added. “But we’ll see what we can do.”
Guiao also missed a few games last conference where Garcia also handled the whiteboard, tallying a win-loss record of 2-1.
Rain or Shine gung-ho guard Ryan Arana is unfazed, saying he believes the team’s never-say-die spirit will work wonders for them in the end.
“Kilala mo naman ang team namin. Hindi kami basta-basta sumusuko. Ngayon underdog talaga kami, pero madalas ganun naman ang gusto namin,” Arana said.
“Saka, swerte rin naman kami pag si coach Caloy ang nag sa-sub kay coach Yeng. Madalas nakakanakaw rin kami ng panalo,” he added.