As good as advertised
Ever since he was able to draft two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena, Yeng Guiao has given the stalwart nothing but high compliments. And it did not change during the NLEX Road Warriors’ season debut Wednesday evening.
The 6-foot guard was sensational in his first-ever PBA game as he posted a statline of a team-high 18 points and 12 assists to go along with seven rebounds and two steals. Even if he failed to score in the payoff period, Guiao still plugged the rookie during the game’s closing minutes that resulted to a 119-115 NLEX win over the Kia Picanto.
“Kiefer played well for us, I had no doubt that he can make an impact and he can lead the team as a rookie and that’s exactly what he did,” said Guiao, who has been in the coaching business since 1990.
“He’s going to be a very special player in this league.”
With the time he has spent in the PBA, Guiao has seen his fair share of elite guards. Ravena is no different as the seven-time champion coach compared him to a combination of Willie Miller and Paul Lee.
“Mahirap mag-isip ngayon pero maybe he’s a combination of some of those guys, a combination of Paul Lee and a Willie Miller.
“He’s able to create his onw shots, he’s able to find his open teammates and that’s very good for the team because our style of play is really just finding the open guys,” shared Guiao. “He’s smart enough to recognize that.”
Guiao won two championships with Miller during his time with Red Bull. With Lee in Rain or Shine on the other hand, the 58-year-old mentor took home two trophies as well.
When told about this, the 24-year-old could not help but be grateful. Moreover, he is using it as motivation to make his mentor prouder.
“Nag-mix kami ni Kuya Willie sa tiyan,” quipped Ravena.
“Nalalabas talaga ni Coach Yeng yung laro mo kahit rookie ka,” the second generation cager added. “The most important thing is you follow his system and trust your team. Yung mga practices at tune-ups namin, lagi niya ko hinahatak to make the adjustments that I need.”
Besides the praise, Ravena knows that there is pressure that comes with it. The second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft disclosed that even if Guiao is saying this in public, it’s not the same during the team’s sessions.
“With coach Yeng, even if he is praising me like that, wala sa practice yun e — believe me,” he said. “There’s nothing special about it. Lahat ng mga sinabi niya ngayon is water under the bridge.
“We have to focus on the next game and focus on the things that we have to improve on.”