AFTER a seven-year absence, Yeng Guiao is making his PBA All-Star comeback by calling the shots for the North team in Sunday’s spectacle at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It’s the first time Guiao will be coaching again in the main event of the All-Star festivities since 2009 when he was mentor of the Powerade-PH team that played against a PBA selection in a three-leg series that also culminated at the Big Dome as the national squad was preparing for the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship.
Guiao said it’s always a ‘privilege and honor’ coaching in the All-Star.
“I’ve been coaching in the PBA for the last 25 years and I tell you, the fun hasn’t died down,” he stressed. “It’s always a treat when you come to this point.”
Guiao is in his fifth stint as All-Star coach, tied for second with the legendary Sonny Jaworski, Derick Pumaren, and Chot Reyes for the most number of All-Star appearances. Multi-titled Tim Cone leads the pack with eight.
The fiery Rain or Shine coach has a .500 winning rate at 3-3, since the 2009 edition played three games – Mindanao (Panabo, Davao), Visayas (Victorias, Negros Occidental), and Luzon (Araneta Coliseum).
Guiao hopes to further raise his personal record as his team goes up against coach Leo Austria’s South selection in their 7 p.m. match-up.
He was selected as North coach for steering Rain or Shine to the Commissioner's Cup championship, while Austria got the nod as South mentor for San Miguel's dramatic title quest in the Philippine Cup.
He’s banking on speed, quickness, and outside shooting of his team to offset the tremendous height advantage the South side enjoys, mentioning the likes of Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and Calvin Abueva.
Among the North players, he already handled veterans Mark Caguioa, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo, Lee, and Gabe Norwood, and is actually looking forward coaching the rest who haven’t been under him such as Marc Pingris, Alex Cabagnot, and Troy Rosario,
“At least ngayon kahit sandal lang as a coach, gusto mong ma-experience kung paano mo mahawakan ang mga ito,” he said. “They all know mabait ako sa kanila pag kakampi ko sila, at salbahe ako sa kanila pag kalaban ko sila.”
Guiao plans to have the North enjoy the two-hour game, but at the same time, stay competitive against the South, bannered by two-time MVPs June Mar Fajardo and James Yap.
“(We’ll just) enjoy the game and have some fun,” he said. “Pero we also have to compete, mahirap namang i-enjoy (yung game) kung talo ka.”