Rain or Shine felt a lot like a family to coach Yeng Guiao, and the decorated mentor thought he would stay and retire with the franchise.
“I was not expecting to leave Rain or Shine. I thought I would retire with Rain or Shine,” he admitted on Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART and supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.
“We were like family. That team was very close,” Guiao added in the podcast also supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.
In 2016, Guiao had just steered the Elasto Painters to the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup crown, his second title with the franchise he joined in 2011.
And after the season, he was already discussing a contract extension with Rain or Shine’s top brass.
“We were actually at the end of the negotiations,” he said. “I think in principle, there was already an agreement.”
That was until NLEX, who at that time had just finished its second season in the PBA, came knocking at his door.
The Road Warriors were looking to replace Boyet Fernandez as their chief mentor then, and they wanted Guiao in his place.
“And then here comes NLEX, and they made me an offer,” recalled. “I wouldn’t say I couldn’t resist, but it was just so well-planned for me that time.
“It didn’t only include my basketball career; they had also included a chance for me to do civic work for my constituency in Pampanga — at that time I was still very much involved in politics,” said the former Pampanga vice governor.
“Also, the chance to be in a stable where you can have the resources of the MVP Group. So it was the most difficult decision actually that I had to make.”
It was a tough situation for Guiao, especially knowing that Rain or Shine, as mentioned, has become family to him.
But of course, there’s also that lure of not just embracing a new challenge, but having the chance to be of help to his constituents.
Fortunately for him, though, a talk with Rain or Shine co-owner Raymond Yu helped him weigh things better.
“Boss Raymond, because he is so understanding, told me, ‘Coach you take that offer’, sabi niya sa akin. Anytime you feel that you want to come back, you can come back. Who could be a better boss than that?” Guiao said.
Eventually, Guiao took the offer. And on October 7, he was formally welcomed by NLEX as its new chief shot-caller.
His transfer to the MVP Group-owned franchise then sparked major changes within the RoS camp, such as the Paul Lee-James Yap trade.
“I look above my personal emotions, I look at how many more people I can help with the resources that they were setting aside for my constituents. So sabi ko, I’ll try this, and true enough they gave me a lot of importance on the team.
“They gave me the decision-making leeway, and all the things I recommended they’re able to grant. So swerte ako — not too many coaches are able to get that kind of opportunity,” said Guiao, who’s also NLEX’s general manager.
Still, even if he’s now entering his fourth season at the helm for the Road Warriors, the Elasto Painters will always be special for Guiao.
“Actually up to now, I’m still very close to Boss Raymond, to Boss Terry [Que] and the family in Rain or Shine; even to my coaching staff sila Coach Caloy [Garcia] and even to the players still there who played under me — even to the utilities, the ball boys,” said the 61-year-old Guiao, who has seven PBA championships under his belt.
“Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and I see a game on TV and Rain or Shine is playing and it’s a replay, and I’m trying to see where I am and realizing I’m no longer on that team. Nangyayari ‘yun.”
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