Coach Yeng Guiao feels flattered to be PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas’ top choice as the mentor of the select team he dreams to see go up against China in a series of exhibition matches to kickstart the league’s 46th season.
The amiable executive on Friday expressed his wish of witnessing a PBA selection play the Asian powerhouse in a best-of-seven friendly as he wants the league to give the people “inspiration and hope” amidst the rough times.
And Vargas, also the governor of TNT, believes that Guiao is the best man to call the shots for the Philippine side, saying that the NLEX chief tactician”‘would be perfect to lead a courageous charge for national pride and honor.”
“Actually we were in touch even before he announced that. Sabi ko. okay sa akin yun,” Guiao told Tiebreaker Times.
“I’m flattered, ako yung nasa isip ni Chairman Ricky. I’m flattered that he had me on top of his choices.”
The decorated think-tank believes that him being the coach of the national team that fought the Chinese in the 2018 Asian Games factored in Vargas’ pitch to have him man the sidelines in his dream match-up.
Guiao’s team, made up of the Rain or Shine core reinforced by NBA sixth man Jordan Clarkson, fought gallantly but lost by just a field goal, 80-82. Gilas eventually finished fifth in the quadrennial event.
“Maybe because nakalaban natin yung China sa Asian Games e, and that game was decided by one possession at the end,” recalled the former Rain or Shine head coach. “Pero it was really just one possession. And that was the time we had Jordan Clarkson with us.
“So maaaring naalala din ni Boss Ricky yun. We were not even playing with our best PBA talents because that was just the Rain or Shine team which was reinforced.”
But for Guiao, being part of it is more than just about basketball. For the former politician, this is his way of helping spur awareness among Filipinos regarding the real issues surrounding the Philippines and China.
“If I am called to make that service, I will gladly do it kung makakatulong siya in any way to maybe bringing together a discussion or even an awareness of what’s really going on doon sa West Philippine Sea,” the 62-year-old champion coach said. “Even if it’s just for that awareness, ‘no, maintindihan lang ng maraming tao, or maintindihan pa ng karamihan ng tao kung ano yung mga issues involved.
“Even if it’s only a way to educate our population kung ano nangyayari doon. Kasi baka marami pa’ng hindi alam kung ano yung issues involved e. At least kung may ganito baka mas maintindihan nila, mas maging curious sila na karapatan talaga natin ‘yoon, na hindi tayo pwedeng itaboy sa sarili nating teritoryo.
“If that’s the way I can at least symbolically make a contribution to our effort to preserve the integrity of our territory, I’ll gladly do it. Hindi naman kasi ako sundalo, hindi naman ako pwedeng lumaban sa giyera; hindi naman ako pulitko ngayon, but I’m still a basketball coach. So if that’s the area where I can make a contribution, okay sa’kin. I will gladly do it,” he expressed.
Nevertheless, Guiao said that it is indeed interesting to see the Filipino cagers go up against their Chinese counterparts. For him, this could also be an opportunity for the program to see where it is right now heading into the 2023 World Cup.
“I think it could be a good indication of what kind of team we can put together maybe for the World Cup, ‘no. Baka pwede na maglaro diyan sina Kai Sotto, sina Jordan Clarkson nga, sina AJ Edu. So it’s interesting,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting kung sakali, ano. And then our new generation of talents. Baka andyan na sina Dwight Ramos.
“But sa akin, ang tingin ko, before we even look outside of Asia, kailangan sa Asia pa lang, let’s compete with the best in Asia and China is certainly one of them. It’s certainly an honor to be participating in the World Cup, in the Olympics, pero alam natin ang liit ng ng chance natin dun e. Pero pagdating sa Asia, baka may chance tayo,” he continued.
“Baka mas realistic yun, na we can be competing with the top teams in Asia. And itong China series na ‘to is a good measure.”