Rain or Shine had a successful night on Sunday during the 2023 PBA Draft.
Picking third and fourth in the annual showcase, the Elasto Painters managed to make well-balanced selections.
Certainly, the 6-foot-7 versatile big man, Luis Villegas, was the clear-cut No. 3 choice in the stacked class. However, Villegas will sit out the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup as he is still recovering from an ACL tear.
Instead of succumbing to the temptation of drafting an injured Zavier Lucero at fourth, they decided to select another 6-foot-7 big man, Keith Datu.
For head coach and general manager Yeng Guiao, it was about securing both their present and future. Guiao stated, “Kailangan na namin mag-isip ng future namin. Beau (Belga), Jewel (Ponferrada), and Mark Borboran, our bigs, they’re getting older, so we need a new generation of big men.
“With the players we acquired, we’re hoping that they can take over.”
Villegas and Datu are aware that they will shoulder significant responsibilities with Rain or Shine—a team aspiring to compete with the league’s top contenders. Nonetheless, they are excited about the challenges that lie ahead.
“It’s been a great experience. I’m very happy to be part of their organization, heard a lot of great things about them, and I’m just ready to get to work,” said Villegas.
“As the fourth overall pick, I’m very grateful and blessed to be in this position,” Datu added.
Of course, the duo has also heard some “tough love” stories, from the stern coaching style of Guiao to the mentorship provided by Belga to rookies.
“I’m excited to learn from Beau; he’s been around. I know we will build chemistry and hopefully grow and learn this season,” quipped Datu.
“I’m excited. I’ve heard a lot of good stories about Coach Yeng—a lot of stories about his intensity—but I also heard that everyone respects him. I’m excited to see what he can do to help me succeed in the PBA,” Villegas remarked.
While both players will be in the bigs position for Rain or Shine, Villegas is confident that he and Datu will complement each other perfectly.
He expressed, “It’s great. That’s what we need in the PBA—more size. With Datu being there, I’m comfortable with his size and how he plays. I’m just excited.”