Amidst mounting pressure, Rain or Shine’s head coach Yeng Guiao remains steadfast in his commitment to upholding the team’s spirited and fearless style of play as they gear up to represent the Philippines in the 42nd Jones Cup.
Guiao expressed his thoughts on the upcoming challenge, acknowledging the tough competition that awaits them in the August 12-20 tournament at the Taipei Heping basketball gymnasium. The coach emphasized the team’s determination to give their best performance and represent the country with pride.
“Tingnan natin. I feel baka maka-disgrasya tayo ng ilang teams doon (Let’s see. I feel that we might cause some trouble for a few teams there),” Guiao commented regarding their campaign. “But we will represent the country best we can.”
The 42nd Jones Cup promises an intense lineup of competitors, including national teams from Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the host country, Taiwan (represented by Teams A and B). The mix also includes Japan’s U-21 team, the University of California, Irvine from the US, and formidable opponents like Korean Basketball League (KBL) and East Asia Super League (EASL) champion Anyang KGC, led by former NBA player Omari Spellman.
Interestingly, the Philippines was the reigning champion in the last Jones Cup held in 2019, with Mighty Sports emerging victorious. This team was led by a roster of imports and Fil-Ams, including Renaldo Balkman, Eugene Phelps, Hamady N’Diaye, Mckenzie Moore, Zach Graham, Mikey Williams, Jeremiah Gray, Jason Brickman, and Roosevelt Adams. Mighty Sports dominated the tournament with an eight-game sweep, but the competition had to be put on hold for the next three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang mahirap dito may pressure nga dahil yung previous team (natin) before the pandemic pa, nag-champion. Kaya lang nakita naman natin lima yata yung import nila (The difficult thing here is that there is pressure because the previous team (ours) before the pandemic, won the championship. That’s why we saw five of them imported),” Guiao said.
Addressing the unique challenges this year, Guiao acknowledged the pressure stemming from the Philippines’ previous championship in the tournament. He compared it to the current situation where some teams fielded as many as five imports. Guiao noted that Rain or Shine’s approach is distinct, relying on an “organic team” composition rather than a heavily import-reliant roster.
Rain or Shine will be fielding naturalized player Ange Kouame and experienced big man Nick Evans for the week-long competition to bolster their ranks. The entire Rain or Shine squad, including veteran Gabe Norwood who shortened his US vacation, is committed to the Jones Cup. The Elasto Painters are scheduled to play eight games within nine days, a testament to the intensity of the tournament.
As Rain or Shine embarks on this challenging journey, Coach Yeng Guiao’s determination to bring the team’s characteristic zeal and intensity to the international stage inspires the team and the country they represent.