As it turned out, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao didn’t have to scream and shout to get the Elasto Painters’ attention. In fact, he didn’t have to be in the game at all.
Reportedly in Hong Kong on a climate change conference connected with his function as a Pampanga congressman, Guiao, with his scowling presence, was hardly missed last night as Rain or Shine painted the town red, plastering winless Barako Bull, 99-71, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Their third win in five outings kept the Elasto Painters in a share of fifth place and came as a shot in the arm after four lackadaisical games that were so out of character for the ballclub that made it to the finals twice last season.
Rain or Shine never came close to matching its 51-point winning margin over Alaska last conference but did a masterful job erasing the stigma of a 99-76 loss to Talk ‘N Text last Sunday which triggered a team meeting two days after where dire matters were broached.
“We have a totally different look today. Perhaps it’s the result of our team meeting with Coach Yeng,” said assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who bared that the possibility of trades were brought up during the heart-to-heart talk with the players after the ROS management grew exasperated with the E-Painters’ slow start.
“Coach Yeng told them that if they can’t perform, then the team will have to make a move,” Garcia said. “I guess that opened their eyes during practice. Alam nila na di sila puwedeng maging kampante.”
It may have been a subtle hint from Guiao, but his players apparently got the message.
The Elasto Painters briefly separated from a tie with Talk ‘N Text behind the pace-setters but found themselves back in the company of the Tropang Texters after the latter’s 85-62 victory over the Kia Sorento.
Alaska, ironically, is towing the 12-team field with an immaculate 4-0 card, having bested San Miguel Beer in a duel of unbeaten leaders on Wednesday. Tied at second to fourth with 3-1 slates are the Beermen, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the Meralco Bolts.
Garcia subbed for Guiao and looked ready to whip up a frenzy in pursuit of the huge margin. But the self-motivated E-Painters did such a forceful job dominating Barako Bull from the start that the Letran Knights coach was left with little cause to push the team harder.
Five ROS players were in double figures, with Jeff Chan scoring 23 points with four 3-pointers, TY Tang adding 12 and Jervy Cruz 11 points with 10 rebounds, along with Chan, whose double-double was a career first.
They opened with a 13-2 lead, hiked it to 55-28 at the half and were up, 99-67, just before the final buzzer.
Though capable of springing an upset with its mix of youth and experience, Barako Bull never got the chance to build any momentum, missing 51-of-78 shots, getting outrebounded, 56-47, and pummelled by Rain or Shine’s bench, 55 points to 36.