DESPITE Antoine Wright failing to make an nice first impression, coach Yeng Guiao is not about to give up on his new import.
Guiao said he believes the 33-year-old NBA veteran has a lot more to offer than the 16-point, eight-rebound job he did in Rain or Shine’s 92-103 loss to Barangay Ginebra on Sunday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Wright played for 28 minutes in his debut game on local soil as a replacement for the injured Wayne Chism despite arriving in the country just a few hours before game time.
And the Rain or Shine coach is not about to easily pass judgment, given the short time frame he had to blend with the Elasto Painters, who suffered their second straight loss in the mid-season tournament for a 1-2 (win-loss) slate.
“Understandably, we have a new import. It’s the first time he played with our team. He just stepped out of the airplane this morning and wala pa siyang tulog. So that’s not really the best we could see of him,” said Guiao inside the Rain or Shine dugout.
“But he’s promising. If we can get a few days with him to practice, to know his teammates, to know the system, we’ll get better.”
In as much as he also likes to retain the services of Chism, last year’s Best Import in this same tournament, Guiao said the time frame needed for him to recover from the pulled hamstring injury he suffered against Meralco will be too long.
As per the doctors’ estimate, Chism could likely be out for a month - and Rain or Shine can't afford to wait that long.
“Mukha kasing malaking damage nung hamstring niya,” said Guiao. “Sabi niya (Chism) in two weeks makakabalik siya, but I think we have to take the prognosis of the doctor, who is the expert on this matter more seriously than what he feels about himself.
“Parang mhirap ng makabalik siya, masyadong matagal kung maghihintay kami.”
So for now, Antoine seems to be the ‘Wright’ choice for Rain or Shine.
“What we’ll do now is to get this guy into game shape and have him adopt to our system,” said Guiao of their new import, a first round NBA Draft pick, who had stints with teams such as New Jersey, Dallas, Toronto, and Sacramento in a five-year span.