'How can you beat them?' Guiao laments other PBA teams just playing for 5th place

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2021 02:31 PM

'How can you beat them?' Guiao laments other PBA teams just playing for 5th place 1
Former Gilas Pilipinas and current NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. File photo

MANILA, Philippines -- The arms race during the offseason has turned the PBA into a four-team league, with the rest of the franchises playing for fifth place.

This was the lament of NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao as he observed the landscape of the PBA during an appearance on "The Chasedown" on Saturday.

"Meron talagang mga team na sobrang lakas na," noted the coach. "Ang tingin ko, parang ang feeling ko nga noong nakita ko ang mga lineup, ang feeling ko pinaglalabanan na lang dito, fifth place eh."

"Dati sinasabi natin pagka may isang malakas na team, second place na lang pinaglalabanan, alam na natin kung sino champion. Pero ngayon, ang tingin ko, fifth place na lang ang pinaglalaban," he added.

For Guiao, the moves made by San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Magnolia, and Talk 'N Text during the offseason have firmly entrenched them in the top four spots.

San Miguel, already set to welcome back six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, added CJ Perez in a controversial trade with TerraFirma. Barangay Ginebra, the reigning All-Filipino champions, landed former top overall pick Christian Standhardinger. Magnolia added Calvin Abueva, and TNT welcomed back head coach Chot Reyes while adding promising Fil-Am guard Mikey Williams from the PBA Rookie Draft.

Guiao noted that the bulk of the national team pool is concentrated among these four teams, giving them a great advantage over the rest of the league.

"Kung titingnan mo lang 'yung Ginebra, for example. Eh, kalahati na ng Gilas team ko 'yun eh. 'Yung Gilas team ko na ginamit," he said. "So you cannot out-talent that team, and you cannot out-coach Tim Cone. So papaano mo pa tatalunin?"

"Puntahan mo 'yung San Miguel. Babalik na si June Mar, Gilas. Si Arwind (Santos) nag-Gilas din sa akin. Si Marcio Lassiter, nag-Gilas din sa akin. Nilagay mo pa si CJ Perez, Gilas player ko din 'yun si CJ. Andoon pa si (Alex) Cabagnot, nag-Gilas din 'yun sa akin. Tapos andoon pa si (Chris) Ross. Papano mo bubuwagin 'yang team na 'yan? So ang lakas ng dalawa," he added.

Magnolia, for its part, features Paul Lee and Mark Barroca, who both played for Guiao in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. TNT may have lost Ray Parks to a sabbatical, but they still have Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, Poy Erram, and Jayson Castro -- all Gilas Pilipinas players.

"So, nandiyan sa top four teams na 'yan ang ating lahat na Gilas pool," said Guiao. "Matitira na lang sa akin, si Kiefer (Ravena) na lang ang galing sa Gilas."

"So after that, siguro 'yung mga teams na matitira, maswerte ka kung meron kang isang naglaro sa Gilas. Pero all the top players are in the top four teams," he added. "And they have the top coaches. So ano gagawin mo? You cannot out-coach them, you cannot out-talent them. How do you beat them? 'Di ba?"

There is no assurance that they can "outwork" the top four teams, Guiao also said. At this level, "all the teams are working hard."

"It's only a matter of the pieces. It's the pieces and probably a little bit of the coaching. Pero sabi ko nga, nandoon na sa kanila lahat ng Gilas pool. Nasa top four teams 'yung lahat ng Gilas pool," he lamented. "The rest of the other teams, they just have to work with what they have. Agrabyado ka na doon sa top four teams na 'yun. 'Yung pool nasa kanila na eh."

The state of the PBA led Guiao to ask: "How do you beat them?" It is a question that the veteran mentor cannot answer.

Ultimately, Guiao believes the PBA owes the Filipino fans a better product. He noted that PBA fans "want parity," with all teams having a shot at winning a title. Given the current landscape of the league, this does not seem at all possible.

"Masyadong mahal ng mga Pilipino ang basketball eh. Manonood pa rin sila (ng PBA)," Guiao said.

"Kaya it's really up to us to give them the best product. Ibigay mo 'yung best product sa mga tao. Hindi 'yung dahil sa wala silang magagawa, magtiis kayo rito."

FROM THE ARCHIVES:

Watch more on iWantTFC