EVEN with the loss to Barangay Ginebra, it was not all bad for Yeng Guiao who finally saw his rookie Chris Tiu return to the court on Sunday night.
Tiu, who missed the last 10 games of the team after hurting his hamstring on his pro debut last October 3, came off the bench in Rain or Shine's 90-97 defeat to the Gin Kings and played well enough to please his demanding boss.
What was supposed to be a feeling-my-way-back outing for the former Ateneo star turned out to be far more as he played for 20 minutes against the Gin Kings, finishing with eight points, two rebounds, two steals and one assist while spending a lot of time defending Ginebra star guard LA Tenorio.
“For me, I was happy to be back on the court,” Tiu said. “My goal was not to get injured in the game again. I thought I will just play five or six minutes. I wasn’t very aggressive at all because I just took some outside shots.
"I had to hold myself back and not penetrate. Just have to be little patient,” he added.
Tiu said he only told Guiao of his readiness to play just before the game.
“I was just readying myself already especially nung di nagpractice si TY (Tang) nung Friday. Wala namang pain na nung nagpa-practice ako. But again, I shouldn’t be complacent. I need to continue to stretch well and continue strengthening. Hopefully, I’ll keep improving slowly every game,” he said.
Tiu said he was surprised to get a relatively tame reception from the pro-Ginebra crowd, considering he is playing for a Rain or Shine team that is fast gaining a reputation for being the most physical in the league.
But he said things would've been different had he made a crucial three-pointer with the game still too close to call in the final minutes.
“If I made that shot, they wouldn’t be cheering (for me) anymore. But I appreciate that (crowd not booing him) though we would have wanted the game to go our way. Maybe, they (Gin Kings) were the better team today,” said Tiu, whom the Gin Kings passed up during draft day to pick Fil-Am Chris Ellis.
Guiao gave his prized rookie a passing mark for playing quality minutes.
“He played good defense. And this is also a good feeling-out game kasi mas mataas ang kumpiyansa niya at feel niya sa game…kesa maglalaro siya sa San Mig pa na magiging first game niya (from the injury)," said Guiao.