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Yeng Guiao targets bigs again after Villegas, Datu in last year’s PBA Draft


Rain or Shine hopes to snare quality more big men in the PBA Season 49 Rookie Draft in an aim to build a team that can compete with championship-caliber sides following a Philippine Cup campaign filled with lessons.

The Elasto Painters found themselves swept by San Miguel in the best-of-7 semis.

However, as tough as the loss was, it gave the coaches an idea of what kind of squad they shall mold if they are to get past someone as mighty as their recent foes.

“‘Yun naman talaga ang premium sa Draft, mga big men,” head coach Yeng Guiao said after the 107-100 Game 4 loss at the Mall of Asia Arena, Friday.

“When you want to get to a championship, or win a championship, sa pagka-constitute ng San Miguel team, parating may June Mar eh. So kailangan makahanap ka ng katapat ni June Mar,” he furthered.

June Mar Fajardo did make it difficult for Rain or Shine in the series, which saw him average 18.2 points and 13.7 rebounds.

In the clincher alone, he posted 17 and 23 to help his side come back from 19 down to book another Finals trip.

Guiao’s squad did have bigs in Beau Belga and Keith Datu, but the outspoken mentor would be the first to admit that they aren’t enough against the reigning seven-time MVP, who could make a strong case for the BPC title.

Luis Villegas, who would have helped the Elasto Painters as well, sat out the entire season as he is still recovering from an ACL tear he sustained a year ago with TNT 3×3.

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2023-PBA-Draft-4-Rain-or-Shine-Keith-Datu Yeng Guiao targets bigs again after Villegas, Datu in last year's PBA Draft Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

“Hindi naman pwedeng si Beau gagamitin mo dahil una, mas maliit talaga siya, tsaka mabigat pa rin si June Mar. Hindi mo pwedeng i-match up ng 40 minutes na nilalaro ni June Mar sa loob. Kailangan may katulong pa rin siya,” he said.

It’s not easy, too, to face an SMB team so loaded that Fajardo himself has a bevy of options to defer to whenever the defenses collapse on him – from CJ Perez, to Marcio Lassiter, to Don Trollano, to name just a few.

“Ang hirap kasi maghanap ng physical specimen na pwede mo talagang itapat sa kanya eh,” Guiao said. “‘Pag binagsakan mo siya ng bola, may 70-percent ka na na efficiency rate eh, or kailangan mong dumouble team.

“‘Pag doumouble team ka naman, dahil ang gagaling din nung nakapaligid sa kanya, ‘yun naman ang magiging problema mo. It’s really picking your poison.”

But to find pieces that could at least compete with Fajardo’s presence, Guiao believes, would better their chances against San Miguel, who continues to be the yardstick among PBA teams given their pedigree.

“If we can have somebody who can match up with June Mar with minimal help, doon ka may chance na talunin sila,” the champion bench tactician offered.

“Although, malakas pa rin ‘yung support staff niya. Pero I think that everything is really being created by the presence of June Mar on offense and defense.”

That’s why Guiao and his staff hope to get the players they prefer in the July draft proceedings, where they have two first-round picks to maximize.

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Pieces that could go well with the ‘six or seven’ players which the coaches are looking to become the core of the Elasto Painters, guided not only by the brain trust but the veteran in Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood.

“I think sa team namin, we have about six or seven who can really be the core of the team. At, mga bata,” said the 65-year-old Guiao.

So, kailangan na lang kami magbuild ng mga dalawa o tatlong piyesa around those core na tingin namin magko-compliment sa kanila. And, we have the Draft to do that,” he continued. “We have two first-round picks in the Draft.

“So, magandang pagkunan ulit ng resource o ng talent, and combine them with the younger guys. Then, we have to keep Gabe and keep Beau so that they can keep on helping us mold the team. SIla ‘yung mga veteran leaders namin.”

Written By

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


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