by Jonas Terrado
Yeng Guiao and Norman Black believe that their former player Chris Tiu has enough gas left amid the likelihood that the Rain or Shine guard had played his last PBA game last Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tiu scored a career-high 30 points in Rain or Shine’s 107-101 upset of Guiao and NLEX, a performance that could serve as a proper sendoff should the good-looking cager decides to call it a career after six pro seasons.
His likely swan song has many left to ponder if Tiu can still play in top form for at least the next year, though ventures off the court and focus on his growing family are making the 33-year-old ponder retirement.
“I think Chris can still play another two or three years,” said Guiao, who coached Tiu from his rookie year in 2012 to 2016 when he was still manning the Rain or Shine bench.
“I always told Chris that he’s too good to be retiring. But I guess he knows what’s best for him,” Black, Tiu’s mentor during his UAAP days with Ateneo, said after Meralco’s 111-81 win over San Miguel Beer.
Guiao recalled how getting Tiu was a far-fetched idea during the 2012 draft, with Rain or Shine slated to pick seventh in the proceedings.
Petron (now-San Miguel Beer) went with June Mar Fajardo as the top overall pick, Alaska chose Calvin Abueva and Petron took Alex Mallari at No. 3.
Meralco and Barako Bull took Cliff Hodge and Aldrech Ramos before Barangay Ginebra San Miguel decided not to go the other route by picking Chris Ellis at No. 6.
That reportedly left Rain or Shine to change its draft strategy and didn’t pass on the chance to pick Tiu.
“It was too hard to pass up the opportunity,” Guiao recalled. “With his high IQ and intelligence, we anticipated that he’ll bring that to the team. He was also really popular and we also needed that at that point with our team.”
Tiu’s popularity was nurtured during his Ateneo days, which ended on a memorable note in 2008 by winning the UAAP championship with Black at the helm and a roster also composed of Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Noy Baclao, Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat.
Black was one of the first people to spill the news of Tiu’s retirement plans in June after the multi-titled American mentor expressed satisfaction in seeing his former pupil produce the best season of his career.
“I didn’t really think he would last this long in professional basketball,” Black said after Meralco’s 111-81 win against San Miguel Beer which came after Tiu’s apparent farewell game. “I know when he graduated from Ateneo, he decided that he’s gonna play for the national team and play professional ball. He said he’s gonna give himself two to three years so he actually overstayed.
“But he has a lot of options, so you can’t really get mad at the guy for wanting to move on to the business world. But he had a good career and I think he’s at a peak of his performance now. He had a career high, right? It’s like Kobe Bryant going out on a high note,” added Black, referring to the time the former NBA star dropped 60 in his final game in 2016.