Rain or Shine will prepare for its upcoming PBA Governors’ Cup meeting versus NorthPort with an all-Filipino unit after encountering another import issue.
Head coach Yeng Guiao is already bracing for the possibility of playing without a reinforcement for the third time already this conference as supposed replacement Jordan Tolbert exceeded the height limit of below 6-foot-6.
“I don’t know if we can bring in anybody by Saturday, including all the documentation and the certification, the permits,” said the straightforward mentor shortly after their 106-114 loss to Phoenix, Wednesday.
“We will prepare to play without an import on Saturday but at the same time, we will try to bring somebody in, kung mayroon mang makukuha.”
Tolbert was all set to be the team’s new import in lieu of the injured Greg Smith II until he was measured at 6-foot-6 and 1/8 inches in the league’s office in Libis.
Guiao and Co. were convinced that the 32-year-old forward would meet the height requirement after two measurements were done, thus the surprise they felt upon learning that he didn’t mere hours prior to the game.
The team was told about the development around 1 p.m., just two hours prior to their match versus the Fuel Masters at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“Pina-measure namin sa Taiwan, digital pa nga ‘yung pinadala nilang measurement eh. I think laser yun,” said Guiao, noting that Tolbert was measured in an hospital in Taiwan, where he last played.
“Kaya lang nakatayo. Below 6’6 siya,” he added. “Dito, after practice yesterday, mineasure din namin siya, pumasok din siya doon sa measurement namin. Pinahiga namin. I was really confident that he could play.”
“Pero mukhang iniklian nila yung pang-measure nila kanina sa PBA kaya sumobra ng dalawang guhit eh,” continued the champion bench tactician in jest, smiling. “Anyway, ganoon talaga. Wala tayong magagawa.”
Now the team will be looking for its fourth import already this conference, and Guiao acknowledges his side’s misfortunes.
“Playing without an import, it’s really a problematic situation,” he said. “We tried our best to bring in an import for this game even if it’s really a close try in terms of the schedule, kahit na nakaisang practice lang siya sana.
“We tried to do everything yesterday and today. But it didn’t work out. Medyo malas sa import ngayon conference na ‘to,” he added.
But it doesn’t mean that the Elasto Painters are throwing in the towel despite their thinning playoff hopes — the squad fell to 11th in the team standings with a 2-7 record, and would need to win their next two assignments.
After battling the Batang Pier, Guiao’s charges will battle San Miguel in the penultimate elimination round game on March 17.
“We’re not giving up. As long as there’s a small chance, we’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep playing,” he said.