Ginebra, Rain or Shine collide in PBA's 37th season opener
A side story of the season-opening Philippine Cup’s 6 p.m. match is the return of Siot Tanquingcen as coach of the Kings and the pro debut of former amateur star Paul Lee for the Elasto Painters.
The enshrinement of seven personalities to the PBA Hall of Fame serves as the highlight of the two-hour long opening ceremony.
The new batch of Hall of Famers include four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, coach Tommy Manotoc, Freddie Hubalde, the late Commissioner Mariano Yenko, ex-Mariwasa coach and national team mentor Tito Eduque, Carlos ‘Bobong’ Velez, and Billy Ray Bates, the flamboyant import who guided the fabled Crispa Redmanizers to a Grand Slam in 1983.
Tanquingcen’s last head coaching stint was with San Miguel, which he steered to the 2008-09 Fiesta Conference title, ironically, against Ginebra.
But he did handle the Kings before, even guiding the league’s crowd darlings to a pair of championships in 2004-05.
A lot of things had changed, according to Tanquingcen, since that six-year stretch.
“I’ll be honest, the time is different. The players are different. We’re one, if not the, oldest teams in the PBA," he said. “The job now is much harder. You don’t only have to come up with strategies for the game, but you also have to manage the players."
And just how old a team the Kings is?
They will start the season minus big man Erik Menk owing to a calf muscle injury.
Meanwhile, the Elasto Painters welcome the new playing calendar with a roster reenergized by the arrival of the former University of the East streak-shooting guard Lee, who was picked second overall in this year’s rookie draft.
Coach Yeng Guiao, who just a few days ago got involved in a heated exchange of words with Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes during a tune-up match, has nothing but praises for his prized rookie.
“Madali siyang makasunod sa sistema," said Guiao. “He’s not afraid to bang bodies. He can shoot, he can pass, he can also play defense and he has good decision-making."
Lee’s addition augurs well for a team that was a win short of advancing to the Governors Cup Finals last season.
“We might be a young team but they (Kings) definitely have a deeper bench and have much more experience," said Guiao. “They are old but they are not past their prime. Pero nakahanda naman ang mga players ko."
The Rain or Shine mentor also downplayed the incident with Reyes, which was triggered when Rain or Shine player Jonathan Uyloan got deliberately hit by Talk N’ Text’s Pamboy Raymundo.
The incident foced Guiao to confront the Tropang Texters rookie before Reyes stepped in that ignited their brutal exchange.
“The past is the past," said Guiao. “Hindi naman kailangan personalin ang incident na ‘yun. That was not the first time that coach Chot and I figured in a word war. That’s nothing." — JVP, GMA News