FORMER Senator Freddie Webb preached cohesiveness as key to winning.
And teams Rain or Shine and Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 practiced such golden virtue that it came as no surprise the two were the recipients of major awards on Monday during the annual PBA Press Corps Awards Night at the Kamayan Edsa.
The Elasto Painters ran away with three main awards, including Coach of the Year for Yeng Guiao and Executive of the Year for co-owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que.
Jireh Ibanes, the unassuming, blue-collar Elasto Painter defense specialist, completed the triumvirate for the six-year franchise as he was named Defensive Player of the Year by the men and women who regularly cover the PBA beat.
The individual awards came after Rain or Shine won a first ever PBA championship when it beat a highly-favored B-Meg squad in seven full games of the season-ending Governors Cup.
Similarly recognized for their achievement was the Smart Gilas 2.0 of coach Chot Reyes, which was honored following its surprising title run in the recent 34th Jones Cup in Taipei. Reyes was also the recipient of the Presidential Award for being the first truly Filipino coach to steer a Philippine team to the championship of the annual cagefest.
Webb, who was special guest of honor during the affair attended by PBA commissioner Chito Salud, chairman Robert Non, and other league executives, extolled the Elasto Painters and especially the Nationals for playing together as team and winning under stunning circumstances.
“You must have a team that’s been playing together to achieve success,” said the two-time Senator, who was a member of the last Philippine team that made the Olympics in the 1972 Munich Games.
Both Guiao and Reyes were on the same page as `Fastbreak Freddie,’ a former Letran stalwart, long-time Yco player and coach in the defunct MICAA, who also essayed the same role when he went up to the PBA.
“It’s just my luck that anybody who played a single minute in our team made it the best minute he could ever contribute,” said Guiao, who was in Bangkok, Thailand and was represented in the rites by former PBA chairman Mamerto Mondragon.
“The Coach of the Year award is never the work of a single individual,” stressed Guiao, recipient of the highest individual award -- Baby Dalupan Trohpy -- for the second time in the last 11 years.
“This team just generally wants to fight for the country,” said Reyes of his team, which was represented by players Marcus Douthit, Gary David, Larry Fonacier, Garvo Lanete, and Matt Rosser, along with team manager Butch Antonio.
Yu and Que were also not around to receive their first Executive of the Year award named in honor of the late Crispa team manager Danny Floro.
Others honored on this night were Mark Caguioa (Comeback Player), Fonacier (Quality Minutes), David (Scoring Champion) and the All-Rookie Team of JV Casio, Dylan Ababou, James Sena, Marcio Lassiter and Paul Lee.
The program started with a prayer in remembrance of the late PBA Press Corps president Zean Macamay of the People’s Journal, the first prexy of the group who died while in office.