Chris Gavina never expected that Rain or Shine would shake things up and appoint him as head coach, especially after what he believes was a ‘productive’ run by the team in the Philippine Cup bubble last season.
The team promoted the former Mahindra mentor after three seasons as an assistant of erstwhile chief tactician Caloy Garcia, who now serves as the Elasto Painters’ active consultant and head of basketball operations.
“Like what I’ve been saying all throughout the week, it was a shocker to me. I never really expected this series of events to take place. I felt like we had a productive bubble,” he told Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART.
The cager-turned-coach felt so surprised that he thought Garcia — known for being jocular, especially by those close to him — was pulling off a prank when the 45-year-old told him of the development.
“At first I thought he was joking around. You know how Coach Caloy is. I was like, ‘Don’t prank me, Coach!,'” Gavina said with a chuckle.
But as soon as he found out that it was true, Gavina discussed matters with Garcia and the team’s top brass. “The new dynamic of our team and the challenges, that’s the situation we have to deal with,” he said.
This has indeed been a major change within the Elasto Painters’ camp, but the goal remains the same: improvement.
Some of Garcia’s principles will remain in their schemes. But among Gavina’s plans, now that he’s the head think-tank, is building a culture that would help his players rise with better judgment.
“Stylistically, like I was saying, Coach Caloy really had a vision of opening up the floor this year. Using our athleticism and speed, the length of our guys, and envisioning and really just keeping that in mind,” he said.
“And possibly going a little bit more dribble-drive, ride into our flow action, and kinda empower guys with decision-making. I’m here to create that environment where they have that ability to make reads on their own.”
Gavina is also keen on further improving the Elasto Painters’ defense. Yes, despite proving their prowess as an elite defensive team in the bubble last year.
RoS held its opponents to just 80.8 markers per game. It also showed how much it can control the pace, allowing its foes to produce just 7.3 fastbreak points. Lastly, it only let the other teams manufacture 13.2 second-chance points.
All those numbers were the lowest in the league last season, meaning that the Elasto Painters topped those defensive categories. It also ranked first in two-point field goal percentage allowed with only 44.3-percent.
“Defensively, we were one of the most elite teams in the bubble — I think we finished number one in several defensive categories. So I hope we can improve that.”