In Friday’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup match between NLEX and Rain or Shine at the PhilSports Arena, one coach returns to the squad he helped win the championship and another makes his pro league debut after a seven-year sabbatical.
Indeed, there are many sidelights in the game that launches the heroes’ midseason tournament campaign.
Yeng Guiao, the Elasto Painters’ head coach from 2010 to 2016, is taking the reins for the first time since leading them to two championships. Additionally, it will be his first contest against the NLEX squad he coached after leaving Rain or Shine in 2016.
Guiao and NLEX parted ways earlier this month, and NLEX quickly hired Frankie Lim, who last led a PBA squad in 2015 before Tim Cone took over at Barangay Ginebra.
Lim only had two days to practice with the Road Warriors after signing a contract with NLEX just last Tuesday night, which could be to his detriment.
Lim would also be in charge of an NLEX squad that just last Monday dealt Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser to TNT via Blackwater in exchange for young talent Calvin Oftana and veteran center Raoul Soyud.
For his part, Guiao had just over two weeks to get acquainted with his former squad, which now mostly depends on its young brigade, led by Rey Nambatac, Santi Santillan, and Mike Nieto, with just Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and Jewel Ponferrada remaining from the players he used to coach.
Therefore, expect the two tacticians to mostly stick to the fundamentals throughout what they both anticipate will be a brief and swift feeling-out process while letting their respective acquisitions shoulder the majority of the responsibility.
Ironically, it was Guiao who selected former NBA player Earl Clark to support NLEX. Since joining the team late last month, the 34-year-old native of New Jersey has had enough time to get to know the other Road Warriors, who are led by Don Trollano, Kevin Alas, JR Quinahan, and Justin Chua.
With new immigrant Steve Taylor, a well-traveled former Toledo Rocket who Guiao chose to replace Daniel Ochefu, Rain or Shine had just had a week of practices (NC).