MANILA, Philippines -- Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao says changing imports is not out of the question for their team as Michael Qualls continues to struggle to mesh with their locals inside the court.
Much was expected of Qualls after he torched Meralco for 53 points in a tune-up game ahead of the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup, but so far the American import has been unable to match his preseason performance.
He is still putting up numbers: Qualls is averaging 26.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. But Rain or Shine has yet to grab a win in the conference and Guiao admits that a change might be necessary in order to salvage their campaign.
"Actually locals ko, okay naman ako eh. But as good as athletic as aggressive as Michael is, I still think we’re having chemistry problems," Guiao told reporters on Sunday night, after the Elasto Painters fell to Barangay Ginebra, 116-108.
Qualls had 23 points, five rebounds and two assists in the loss, and was out-played by his Ginebra counterpart. Justin Brownlee finished with a triple-double of 29 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds while making key plays down the stretch for the defending champions.
"No problem with [Qualls'] intensity, effort, athletic ability, but sometimes it’s how you jell with your team, it’s the chemistry, it’s making people around you better," Guiao explained, saying a good import is one "who comes into a team and makes it look better."
"I think that’s where the value is," he added. "You may produce the numbers, 'yung highlights, but the more important thing is if you’re able to make the people around you better."
Guiao didn't say with certainty that they will replace Qualls, but he acknowledged that it will be up for discussion while the Elasto Painters prepare for their next game.
Rain or Shine returns to action on Sunday against the Blackwater Bossing at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"We have a one-week break. Next game namin is Sunday. We will determine if it would still be beneficial for us to keep him or to look for another import siguro," said Guiao.
"We don’t have a decision yet, but we have to come to that decision yet before Sunday’s game," he added.
Guiao added that they have no replacement import on stand-by at the moment.
"Actually, we were looking forward to this game and depending on the result doon uumpisahan 'yung process. 'Di naman sa madali pero we’ve already picked from a list na andun siya before, kumbaga babalikan nalang namin 'yung listahan," he explained.
"Tingnan natin how we will resolve the problem tomorrow. Medyo mahirap pa mag-isip, so we have to clear our heads tonight and determine what we need to do tomorrow [Monday]," Guiao added.
If they do decide to replace Qualls, Guiao hopes they can bring in a new import by Thursday at the latest, in order to give him a chance to practice with the team before making his debut.
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