Jericho Cruz walked out of the Rain or Shine dugout with just a simple get-up while carrying his black backpack, but he walked as if he’s wearing huge headphones, a flashy dress, a pair of Jordans, and a snapback cap with him.
Jeric Teng followed suit, wearing street clothes and having pictures taken with a few fans left inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. After all what they’ve done on the floor in Game 1 which Rain or Shine bagged, 99-86, the Elasto Painters’ young wing guys have all the reason to keep their heads up.
“Always ready lang. Hindi mo alam kung kailan ka gagamitin ni Coach so para sa akin, always ready ka lang off the bench,” the rookie Cruz, who finished with nine points, two rebounds, and an assist off the bench, said.
Averaging 11 minutes in three games this conference, Cruz was also an integral part of limiting Gary David to only five second half points as he played excellent ball denial against the Meralco Bolts’ top local scorer. David finished the game scoring only 14 points, a far cry from his 22 PPG in the quarterfinals against NLEX.
“Yun naman ang kailangan mo sa sarili mo e, you need to have the confidence. Kapag wala kang kumpiyansa, wala, para kang statue sa loob ng court. So kailangan may swag, pero hindi pagmamayabang yun. Ganun lang talaga ako maglaro.”
File Photo: Jeric Teng
Teng did the same against players who are a good seven to eight inches taller than him, like Cliff Hodge and Sean Anthony. Guiao could have replaced them with a bigger player to defend, but he had so much trust in his young gun — the same reason he keeps players on the floor even after crucial errors and lets them solve problems on their own amidst a huge comeback attempt from opposing squads.
“I had a lot of confidence in the toughness of my smaller guys. They think it is a mismatch but my guys will just hold on in those type of plays,” Elasto Painters head coach Yeng Guiao said.
Teng, who is back for only his third game after a five-month hiatus to treat injuries, scored six points in 10 minutes and was a plus-8 during the time he was on the court. Hodge and Anthony were a combined 8-for-19 from the field.
“I’m just accepting my role. Marami kaming scorers so I’m doing my job sa defense,” Teng shared. “I know I am playing limited minutes, pero alam kong may chance ako magamit so I am giving my 100 percent when on the floor maski five or six minutes.”
“I’ve been out for quite some time so I would like to help the team in any way possible.”
Guiao using all of his wards is two-fold: they get fresh legs every time, and they establish more rapport with each other, a vital part of a successful team. [READ: Stats Don’t Lie: Spreading the Love: Minutes Management the ROS Way]
“Playing time is always good for our [younger players] and every time they contribute it is always a plus for their confidence. We will need them in a long series. If it becomes a long series, we will need every warm body,” Guiao added.