ONE coach returns to the team that he turned into a champion and another making his pro league comeback after a seven-year absence collide Friday when NLEX and Rain or Shine square off in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the PhilSports Arena.
Indeed, sidelights are a-plenty in the match kicking off the protagonists' campaign in the mid-season tourney.
For coach Yeng Guiao, it marks his first time back at the helm of the Elasto Painters, whom he steered to two titles while calling the shots there from 2010 to 2016. It also marks his first game against his former NLEX team, which he coached after leaving Rain or Shine in 2016.
After parting ways with Guiao just earlier this month NLEX promptly tapped Frankie Lim, who last coached a PBA team in 2015 before being replaced by Tim Cone at Barangay Ginebra.
One thing that may work to Lim's disadvantage is the fact he only got two days to practice with the Road Warriors since inking a contract with NLEX just last Tuesday evening.
Also, Lim would be handling an NLEX team that traded away rising star Calvin Oftana and veteran center Raoul Soyud to TNT via Blackwater for Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser in a trade approved only last Monday.
For his part, Guiao had a little over two weeks to get familiar with his old team that only has Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Jewel Ponferrada left from the players he used to coach and now relies mostly on its youth brigade led by Rey Nambatac, Santi Santillan and Mike Nieto.
Expect the two tacticians, therefore, to mainly stick to basics in what they both hope would be a short and quick feeling-out process while letting their respective imports carry most of the burden.
Ironically, it was Guiao who chose former NBA campaigner Earl Clark to reinforce NLEX and the 34-year-old New Jersey native had enough time to acclimatize with the remaining Road Warriors led by Don Trollano, Kevin Alas, JR Quinahan and Justin Chua since coming in late last month.
Rain or Shine, meanwhile, barely had a week of practices with new import Steve Taylor, a well-traveled former Toledo Rocket who was tapped by Guiao to replace Daniel Ochefu. (NC)