Yeng Guiao will not experience a repeat rookie draft this time.
Top management gave the Rain or Shine coach the guarantee that the team would keep the Nos. 3 and 4 picks in the forthcoming PBA Season 48 draft, which is scheduled for next month.
Guiao received the assurance from none other than team co-owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que. Guiao plans to further strengthen the team’s young core by bringing in new talent from the incoming rookie class.
The last time a team under his management got a pick as high as these two draft picks, the seasoned coach naturally had a bad experience.
In 2021, when Guiao was the NLEX coach, he also held the third and fourth picks in the Season 46 draft, respectively.
The Road Warriors oddly traded away the No. 4 pick in a three-team transaction that was completed just three days before the draft processes, while keeping the No. 3 pick and used it to select wingman Calvin Oftana.
The prized pick ultimately went to TNT, a team that will not actually take part in the draft until the third round.
The Tropang Giga quickly picked the highly regarded Fil-Am Mikey Williams.
In exchange for the fourth overall pick, NLEX acquired Don Trollano, Roi Sumang, Maurice Shaw, and a 2022-second-round pick.
The only remaining player with NLEX out of the three is Trollano. Williams was the Finals MVP and Rookie of the Year in the two championship runs TNT has had since his arrival.
Later, TNT also acquired Oftana from its sister team in a three-team, six-player exchange.
Williams, as predicted, proved to be a treasure for the Tropang Giga, helping the team win the Philippine Cup championship at the Bacolor bubble in his very first conference in the league, ending a six-year title drought for the team.
The high-scoring guard was named Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, First Mythical Selection, and finished a strong runner-up to Barangay Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson for the season MVP.
Oftana, on the other hand, was a rising star in his first season at NLEX. He later broke Allan Caidic’s record of eight for the most three-pointers made by a rookie, which had stood for 34 years, and set a new record for playoff points scored with 32 in the decisive Game 3 of the Philippine Cup quarterfinals against Magnolia.
Not long later, Oftana discovered himself in a three-team trade with Blackwater, players Troy Rosario and rookie big man Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, as well as TNT.
By unseating Barangay Ginebra, the former NCAA MVP from San Beda later assisted the Tropang Giga in winning the Governors’ Cup.
In contrast, NLEX continued to be a playoff-bound squad and eventually parted company with Guiao.
Guiao believes that Williams and Oftana’s role in a TNT turnaround will have a similar effect on Rain or Shine, which is determined to keep its two first-round draft picks this year.
Although Guiao tends to think that management has given him complete control over how to handle the picks, he claimed that the owners of Rain or Shine still have a role in the matter.