Chris Gavina felt so excited that he could hardly sleep the night before the PBA’s much-anticipated Season 46 opener at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Nobody could actually blame the youthful mentor for feeling that way. Besides the debut of his Rain or Shine, it would also mark his return as a head coach about four years after calling the shots for Mahindra (now Terrafirma).
“It was a pretty sleepless night last night. I think I fell asleep with this coaching shirt on last night and woke up with it,” the 42-year-old shared in between chuckles.
“That’s how excited I was.”
Game time came Friday. As the dust settled following a clash that went down the wire, his Elasto Painters came out victorious, 83-82.
What a way, truly, to make his debut as RoS’ chief tactician. But Gavina didn’t take all the credit to himself. Rather, he called out the trust they have in what they do — and of course, in each and everyone on the team.
“Great effort on both sides. NLEX really fought for every inch tonight. I’m really glad that my guys were resolute enough to trust our system, trust one another, and come out with the big first win for this opening conference,” he said.
The Elasto Painters were actually up nine early in the final frame. They then coughed it up and fell behind by a point with 5:05 remaining.
But as Gavina mentioned, the trust that his men would stick to the plan was there. And his players did not disappoint. Norbert Torres, Rey Nambatac, and Beau Belga showed the way and gave them an 83-79 lead with 56.3 ticks left.
Then when Kiefer Ravena threatened by sinking a long-distance triple to cut the deficit to just a point, Rain or Shine kept firm on defense. They prevented the opposition from stealing the victory while escaping with the win.
“In practice, we do a lot of situational where we work on that stuff,” shared Gavina. “I’m really thankful for a guy like coach Mike [Buendia], who I said coming in if he had a play he knew more than me, then I would just let him sit.
“That’s the level of trust that we’ve kind of grown from player to player, and coach to coach,” he added.
“The guys really just buy in, and they believe in what we can do as coaches. And we believe in them as well.”
With the first game in the books, Gavina hopes that he and the Elasto Painters would be able to continue their winning ways.
“I’m truly blessed to be in this position to help galvanize this team together. And we’re hoping for greater heights and maintaining this momentum as we go to our next game on Sunday.”