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Rain or Shine’s consistency a testament to Guiao’s craft



For all the technical fouls, expletives, on-court antics, hard-hitting quotes, and more, Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao will still go down as one of the best coaches in the PBA.

It may not be too quick or easy to appreciate him but for those who have followed the fiery mentor for period of time knows how he has always transformed a team with his style of coaching — an unorthodox, not-afraid-to-take-risks, and think-out-of-the-box approach which has already given Guiao a handful of PBA championships.

People can say whatever they want about Guiao, who sometimes goes just a bit beyond the line during team huddles or gets bizarre with his on-court lineups from time to time although this signature uniqueness is what’s keeping him and his team a cut above the rest.

Rain or Shine entered the 2015-16 season with its prized backcourt gunner Paul Lee, who put up 15 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.8 APG last year, while also leading the Elasto Painters in win shares with 3.6.

So supposedly, it’s okay for Rain or Shine to struggle a little bit but the Elasto Painters did the opposite thing, beating contenders one by one en route to winning 4 out of their first 5 games.

Rain or Shine holds the second best net rating at +8.4, behind San Miguel’s +8.7. They are the no. 2 defensive team, the no. 4 three-point shooting team, and is the top team in assists per game with 23.5.

PBA PH CUP - ROS SH - AlmazanContinuity plays a big factor in Guiao’s system especially since taking over the Rain or Shine franchise. The team has added key pieces via the draft to strengthen the team: Paul Lee in 2011, Chris Tiu in 2012, Raymond Almazan in 2013, and Jericho Cruz in 2014.

Still, Guiao won’t be a great coach only because of his technical know-how but also of his constant habit to take risks and be different — like trading away guys or passing on draft picks which make fans and basketball followers in general go nuts.

In the 2015 rookie draft, Guiao didn’t bother picking a big, and instead shocked everyone when they selected Maverick Ahanmisi at 3rd overall, saying Jewel Ponferrada’s addition will already suffice.

Every the courageous coach that he is, Guiao proved to have made another high-risk, high-reward move.

Ponferrada is now giving Guiao more toughness inside with his size and ability to cover the paint. Almazan of course, has already become a very decent rim protector.

PBA PH CUP - ROS SH - Paul Lee huddleAnd without Lee, this continuity — along with a positionless system — was felt during the Elasto Painters’ 4-1 start. Cruz is on pace for a breakout sophomore season, averaging 13.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 3.0 APG, in 22.6 minutes, shooting 61 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point area. Tiu is running the point has been a terrific reader so far, while the younger backcourt players are getting more burn and are developing more maturity on the court.

Against Blackwater last Sunday, the unit of Cruz, Nimes, Ahanmisi, Beau Belga, and Ponferrada was what gave the Elasto Painters the separation in the second quarter, turning a 16-all deadlock into a 30-20 lead en route to a comfortable 103-81 rout.

Cruz had 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting, a career-high. Ponferrada had 15 points and was plus-23, while Ahanmisi had 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Nimes, though playing only 12 minutes, was a plus-10.

norwoodGabe Norwood, the longest-tenured Elasto Painter, spoke highly of the continuity and unselfish system that has turned the Rain or Shine family into a contender over the past five years.

“I think that has been the mantra of our team. Whether it is Paul or any injuries in the past, others step up. Mav (Ahanmisi) is playing well with a lot of confidence, Don (Trollano) is getting noticed, and Josan is in his first game where he really got a lot of minutes and he played well,” Norwood said.

“There’s been minimal moves for the last four or five years. We have a good team going and these are guys who buy into the system very easy.”

Rain or Shine is on a roll, and Guiao is showing us why they remain on a different level. He is one of the best in the business.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win



Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics



FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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