YENG Guiao hopes a more motivated Rabeh Al-Hussaini will provide the spark for an NLEX side that’s still in search of a first win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Road Warriors coach said the 6-foot-7 center has committed to be in the best of shape in a bid to earn playing time once again after finding himself buried at the far end of the Meralco bench for most of the season.
At the same time, Guiao said the addition of the 28-year-od former Ateneo standout would somehow give the team the added ceiling it lacked inside.
“Kulang kami sa malaki. Rabeh may not dominate, but he’ll certainly help where we needed one,” said Guiao after the team’s Thursday practice.
Al-Hussaini was acquired by NLEX from Meralco in a three-team trade that also involved Blackwater.
Under the deal, the Bolts sent Al-Hussaini to the Elite in exchange for a 2018 second round pick. Blackwater however, quickly sent the seven-year pro to the Road Warriors for a 2017 second round pick it dealt to NLEX in a previous trade.
Guiao said it was his coaching staff which brought up the idea of acquiring the services of Al-Hussaini.
“Hindi rin naman siya ginagamit sa Meralco, kaya we inquired baka gusto niya rin lumipat and get some playing time,” said the NLEX mentor. “And sinabi niya rin naman na siyempre, gusto niyang maglaro.”
Al-Hussaini was made by Guiao as the No. 2 pick overall during the 2010 PBA rookie draft when he was still coaching Air21/Burger King, a season which turned out to be the finest in Rabeh’s pro career.
“He was Rookie of the Year then,” recalled Guiao of Al-Hussaini’s freshman year when he averaged 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in 28 minutes of play. “I remember he was still contending for the MVP award.”
But as they say, good things never last, and Al-Hussaini would find himself bouncing from one team to another after that brief stint under Guiao.
Hopefully, his reunion with Guiao would help rekindle that same spirit when he was still starting out.
“He already practiced with us. And so far, so good naman,” said Guiao.
The Road Warriors take on the unbeaten Star Hotshots on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, hoping to finally break into the win column after losing their first three games in the tournament.