Former players of coach Yeng Guiao at Rain or Shine relished their unexpected reunion Monday night when as they gather together to start the Philippines' preparation for the basketball competitions of the Indonesia Asian Games set later this month.
Lee is also teaming up with Guiao for the first time since the two simultaneously left Rain or Shine after the 2016 season.
Five Rain or Shine players, along with Magnolia's Paul Lee and TNT KaTropa's Don Trollano were among those selected to the 14-man pool for the Asiad, formed at the last-minute after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas reversed its earlier decision to withdraw from the continental meet.
"It felt like a reunion for a lot of guys," said national team veteran Gabe Norwood, whose team Rain or Shine accepted the task of sending its core players in the country's bid to secure a podium finish for the first time since 1998.
Guiao spent the two-hour session at the Meralco gym giving his former players not only a refresher course of his coaching style and system, but also a trip down memory lane.
"Dito ko ulit naexperience kung gaano kapagod magpaensayo si coach Yeng," said Beau Belga.
That offseason saw Guiao accepting a coaching post at NLEX before Lee was traded to Magnolia for James Yap, who incidentally is also part of the Asian Games pool.
"Siyempre, halos sa start ng career ko siya yung coach ko na pinaglaruan, so nakakamiss," said Lee, who was Finals Most Valuable Player when Guiao won his second and final title at Rain or Shine in the 2016 Commissioner's Cup.
Though sentimental in joining forces with his ex-players, Guiao urged his team to focus on the task at hand with the Philippines expected to face tremendous odds in the competition.
"They're having fun, especially being together after a long time," said Guiao. "But we have to buckle down to serious work, serious business in the next few days."(JT)
photo courtesy of Xander Gubat, SBP