Yeng Guiao squeezes Orange Juice out of Calamansi
Yeng Guiao sat smiling inside the PBA media room while watching his upstart Elasto Painters beat up the hapless Clickers. No. His smile did not seem to be one of pride. It was a smile worn out of shame.
“Ganun talaga, kailangan pagdusahan ang pagkaka-mali. May kasabihan nga na ‘ang pumatol sa sira ulo, mas sira ulo.” said Guiao who was ejected early in the game after being called for a second technical foul for a two-forearm shove on Shopinas’ Ogie Menor (the latter taunted the whole Rain or Shine bench with claps after connecting on a three).
Add that ejection to the one back in October in a game against Alaska and there you have your league-leader, not only this season, but all-time. According to an article by Ding T. Marcelo for Manila Bulletin earlier this July, the fiery coach has amassed a total of P650,900 in fines (P100,000 for Red Bull’s infamous walkout in 2006), 7 ejections (excluding the two he recently had) and 3 suspensions.
Because he is as real as one coach can get, pinapatulan niya talaga lahat and sometimes he crosses the line. If and when he does, he literally pays for it dearly. P650,900 is no joke and it shows Yeng Guiao’s propensity to lose himself.
But more importantly, it shows the extent to which he is willing to fight for his team. This, along with being a really good X’s and O’s guy are the reasons why Rain or Shine is sitting atop the standings at 6 wins and 1 loss.
On paper, the Elasto Painters should only be as good as Ginebra and Powerade, teams with 4 and 5 losses already. Tell me if you think they are stronger than B-MEG or Petron because I don’t. Despite missing the services of TY Tang and a big man who can effectively be a post threat night in and night out, they are arguably the second best team (TNT beat them with a depleted line-up) at the halfway point of the Philippine Cup. Credit should go to Coach Yeng Guiao for maximizing his players’ talents. When Sol Mercado was still in the team, they looked like Shopinas plus the aforementioned and Gabe Norwood. The doubter in me at that time thought that Arana, Tang, Ibanes and Jeff Chan would all have short careers like the Macky Escalonas and the Ranier Sisons of the PBA. Fast forward to today, Guiao has turned college standouts into very reliable contributors, and one-dimensional players into all-star type of players. Most notably is the development of sharpshooter Jeff Chan who has benefited from the exploits of rookie hotshot Paul Lee and veteran playmaker Gabe Norwood. The supporting cast of Ronjay Buenafe, Jervy Cruz, Larry Rodriguez and the “Extra Rice” brothers have been very consistent.
If you observe how these guys play, you will see a semblance of streetball. As the people I talk to would say, “para silang larong-kanto maglaro”. Of course larong-kanto would not cut it in the PBA but if you may, I affectionately describe their play as organized chaos. We all know that Yeng Guaio is as strict as Mrs. Trunchbull (Matilda’s terror principal) and that is the reason why they play organized and disciplined. But contrary to what people think, for me, Yeng Guiao gives his players enough freedom to play their game and that is why his players have blossomed. Guiao requires a certain level of discipline from his players and once his players reach that, he allows them to be chaotic.
The depth of Rain or Shine’s talent is up for debate. Maybe I am selling them short. But what’s undeniable is Coach Yeng Guiao’s ability to make the whole team greater than the sum of its parts. You give him calamnsi, he will give you orange juice.
Is he the best coach in the PBA? Maybe. Maybe not. I know his players believe so because he would protect them from bad guys like Ogie Menor.