Yeng Guiao may only be three games into his Rain or Shine homecoming, but he has seen his predominantly young squad progress ahead of schedule.
“The good thing about this team is that the progression has been quick,” Guiao said after the Elasto Painters added to the misfortunes of the Terrafirma Dyip with a 106-94 victory on Sunday to go 2-1 in the young PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Guiao was also glad to inherit a roster with a “good foundation” that includes rookie guard Gian Mamuyac, who came through when it mattered at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Barangay Ginebra bounced back from a listless debut by taking out a contender in Meralco, 99-91, later in the night.
Justin Brownlee had 34 points and the entire Ginebra starting unit finished in twin digits as the Gin Kings dealt the Bolts and celebrated import Johnny O’Bryant a second straight defeat.
The NBA veteran O’Bryant still couldn’t save Meralco despite shooting 31 points that went with 16 rebounds.
Mamuyac made all of his 17 points in the second half as Rain or Shine pulled away and forced Terrafirma to suffer a 19th consecutive loss, the second longest in league history, which, to the Dyip’s consolation, is still a long way from the all-time mark in futility of 29 held by Blackwater.
Killer stretchThe second straight win following a 96-90 loss to Guiao’s former team, NLEX, more than a week prior sets up Rain or Shine to a stern test in the next three weeks.
Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer is next on Rain or Shine’s schedule on Oct. 9 followed by TNT on Oct. 15 and Meralco on Oct. 22, a stretch that presents Mamuyac and the rest of Guiao’s youngsters a chance to shine or falter against the superior strength of the perennial contenders.
“Ang hihina naman ng mga team na yun (Those are weak teams),” Guiao joked before smiling at the test they are about to face.
That’s also why Guiao opts not to rush things in his initial goal of steering Rain or Shine back to the quarterfinals after failed tries in the last two conferences.
“We’re breaking our goals into manageable sections,” he explained. “Our target number of getting to the quarters is seven wins, so we’re taking it one step at a time. It’s still a long way but our goal is to get as many wins as we can, as soon as we can. If we can get to seven wins, let’s see what we can still do.”
“Rain or Shine has not made the quarters in the last two conferences and making it will be a big achievement for us,” added Guiao.
Among the players who’ll likely be crucial for Rain or Shine is Mamuyac, who, after missing the lopsided win over Barangay Ginebra due to the flu helped Rain or Shine put the fight out of Terrafirma from late in the third quarter onwards.
Two triples by Mamuyac helped the Elasto Painters end the third with a 75-66 lead, before the former Ateneo guard known for his defense displayed promise of being an offensive spark when he made 11 points in the payoff period. INQ
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