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Tiebreaker Times


Yeng Guiao honored to have coached ‘Magnificent Seven’

For some in the PBA, the All-Star Week is something that they look forward to — an opportunity to take a breather from basketball activities. NLEX Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao is no different, saying that he’d already had plans for when the break rolled along.

“I already planned my vacation, my other things to do,” shared the veteran mentor.

However, Guiao wasn’t able to enjoy that break this 2018. Instead of having some time for himself, Gilas Pilipinas reached out to him, and asked if he could coach the SMART All-Star National Team in the All-Star week’s second leg in Batangas.

“Pero, biglang tumawag yung SMART Gilas,” disclosed Guiao, he himself a former national team head coach.

“So I just grabbed the opportunity.”

It may appear that the All-Star coaching stint spoiled his mini-vacation, but Guiao was all smiles after the event, realizing that agreeing to mentor the Nationals in the mid-season spectacle had definitely been a great decision.

Despite having just seven active players, the SMART All-Star team put on a show in front of the Batangueños and defeated the Leo Austria-mentored Luzon All-Stars, 152-149, to bounce back from their loss to Mindanao last Wednesday.

“Magnificent Seven nga ang tawag ko sa natirang pito.

“We didn’t expect to win and lead the game for the most part by 15 or so, pero ginusto nila, nagsumikap sila. In a situation like this, you have very little control as a coach,” beamed Guiao.

“Wala ka namang preparasyon, wala kang sistemang nailagay dyan. Wala ka namang pwedeng gameplan na iexecute. It’s really just the desire of the players to win. I don’t think I can take any credit for that,” added the champion coach.

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Those seven — namely Terrence Romeo, June Mar Fajardo, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, Gabe Norwood, and Troy Rosario — were truly magnificent.

And there were those who stood out and made the Batangas City Sports Center look like their own ground.

Romeo, the TNT Katropa’s super scorer, collected his third All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award in four seasons, as he dazzled the crowd and powered the Nationals with 48 points along with 11 assists and six rebounds.

Moreover, the five-year pro out of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws program now owns the All-Star scoring record, having shattered the previous record of 44 set by both James Yap and Dylan Ababou back in the 2012 festivities.

The diminutive Jalalon, on the other hand, notched a rare triple-double of 12 markers, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in just 26:27 minutes of playing time — his first triple-double in the PBA since entering the league back in 2016.

Jalalon is now the first player to post a triple-double in an All-Star game since 2007, when two-time league MVP Willie Miller achieved the same feat in the North All-Stars’ 145-142 win over South All-Stars, as per the league’s chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.

“Terrence gave a fantastic performance. Jio Jalalon was in triple-double,” remarked Guiao, now a five-time All-Star coach. “They set some records… It’s an All-Star scoring record for Terrence, and a triple double for the smallest guy on the court.”

Aside from having the opportunity to coach those two guards, the two-time Coach of the Year also relished the chance of having the reigning, four-time league Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo on his side even for just one game.

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The San Miguel Beermen superstar was in his element for the Nationals, producing 34 points and 14 rebounds along with a steal, an assist, and a block.

“Yun yung feeling na all twelve coaches in the PBA would want that feeling or that chance [to coach June Mar] pero si Coach Leo (Austria) lang ang merong ganon. So parang swerte talaga, o talagang para sa kanya,” Guiao quipped.

“To me, one of the rare occassions where dati lahat ng paraan para mapigilan mo siya, iniisip mo. Ngayon parang nageenjoy ka lang, sige pigilan niyo kung kaya niyo.”

Guiao definitely had a great experience in Batangas, even if it somehow spoiled his short vacation. Having had the chance of handling some of the best players in the league today for a night, the 58-year-old is truly grateful.

“You feel gratified, honored, and at the same time, ‘pag pinagsama-sama yung ganung talent, ang feeling mo ang sarap i-mold nito… But the mere fact that youre there, nabigyan ka ng opportunity, I’m very thankful and appreciative,” expressed a humbled Guiao.

“I’m just privileged to be part of that history in the making again.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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