For Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, the sweetest part of winning the 2012 PBA Governors’ Cup was doing it with an underdog team.
“I was able to lead a team owned by a not-so-big company and composed of players who have no superstars,” he said.
Rain or Shine is a small firm going up against a B-MEG squad owned by San Miguel Corporation, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates. A look at their lineup reveals a cast composed of underdogs and overachievers, which makes their victory even sweeter, even after considering that their reinforcement Jamelle Cornley was named Best Import this conference.
Only three players on the team were drafted in the top five of the PBA draft: Gabe Norwood (first overall, 2008), Paul Lee (second overall, 2011), and Jervy Cruz (fourth overall, 2009). Lee missed most of the series after re-injuring his shoulder in Game Two.
The Elasto Painters count four more first-rounders, all of whom were drafted late in the first round: Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Larry Rodriguez, and Ronnie Matias. But despite their first round status, they were far from being blue-chippers; all of them were traded away by their original teams before the end of their second season in the league.
The rest of the lineup are composed of second-rounders, led by Jeff Chan, who won the finals Most Valuable Player award. Curiously, it was also Guiao who originally drafted Chan when he was still coaching the Barako Bull franchise. Jireh Ibañes, Ryan Araña, TY Tang, Ronjay Buenafe, and Chito Jaime were also second-rounders, with little-used Jonathan Uyloan catching on as an undrafted free agent for the team.
Against a B-MEG team led by the league’s biggest star, James Yap, Rain or Shine was at a disadvantage when it came to star power. Still, the Elasto Painters had one thing going for them from top to bottom: heart.
“Araw-araw nakikita ko sila, alam kong malaki ang puso nila,” said Guiao. “Alam ko gusto nilang manalo.”
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