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Guiao: It takes sacrifices to build champion team

by Waylon Galvez

Sunday, for many, is a day reserved for worship. And NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is no different as he prepared to hear mass yesterday at Club Filipino in San Juan.

“Nagsi-simba kami ng family ko tuwing Linggo. Of course, maraming dapat na ipagpa-salamat sa Diyos,” Guiao – a devote Catholic – said.

Guiao may have more reasons to be grateful.

What took place the past week in the midst of the Road Warriors’ campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup is among the things Guiao is thankful for as NLEX won its last two games to end its campaign on a brighter note.

After going 0-9 in the midseason conference, NLEX finally earned its first win this season when it downed Alaska, 100-92, last Wednesday before beating Phoenix Fuel, 116-114, last Saturday.

Despite the pair of wins, at 2-9, the Road Warriors are out of the quarterfinal playoffs. But it is something that – for Guiao – something they can carry over to the Governors’ Cup.

The wins also came after NLEX gambled on trades that resulted in five key players – Sean Anthony, Bradwyn Guinto, Eric Camson, Garvo Lanete and Glen Khobuntin – joining other teams.

In return, the Road Warriors received quality players like JR Quiñahan, Alex Mallari and Larry Fonacier, who is recovering from a foot injury but has shown leadership for the young NLEX players.

“It’s a relief that we finally won. At least may pagbabago from the trades and it’s a validation of the changes we made. It’s also a sign that we’re looking good and we’re on the right direction,” said Guiao.

“But you don’t know until good things really happens. For us, we’ll just try to continue to build on the positives, on the accomplishments we had in our final two games.”

According to Guiao, even though NLEX was losing games this conference, and previously in the Philippine Cup when the Road Warriors finished with a similar 2-9 record, he never doubted the team, more so the system he put in place to rebuild the team from the ground up.

Guiao even likened his current squad to former teams, Swift in the 90s, Red Bull during the early 2000, and Rain or Shine from 2012 to 2016 before he decided to leave and take on the coaching chores of NLEX.

“I’m very confident that the system works. Anywhere I go, it worked but it only needs a little time. I’m used to building teams from the ground up. We’ll experience the dry spell, talagang pagda-daanan yan, you cannot escape yung mga ganitong sitwasyon,” he said.

“But never na nag-doubt ako sa system. It’s just a matter of putting together the right pieces… and sometimes that takes time. But with regards to the system I’ve done it three times – with Swift, Red Bull and Rain or Shine.

Guiao has a combined seven titles with those three teams.

“I coached the teams that I build from the ground up. Never ako dumating na buo na yung isang team, kumbaga may mga superstars na; I’m not attracted to that. Ako na gagawa ng paraan para mapalakas ko ang team.”

“The common thing I see from these teams, and now with NLEX, is that it takes sacrifices and years to build. Two years is good enough time. So far nakaka-eight months pa lang ako, so meron pa akong one year and four months. We’ll see,” Guiao added.

The former Pampanga congressman is in no hurry. Faith, after all, is said to serve those who sit and wait.