At one point, JR Quinahan would receive a mouthful from his head coach Yeng Guiao, when the veteran center commits a silly foul.
“Hindi ka talaga nag-iisip,” the fiery mentor shouts at Quinahan when he picks up his sixth and last foul, putting the Road Warriors at a disadvantage in their frontline.
You would see Kenneth Ighalo getting scolded in one play when the tentative guard couldn’t make up his mind whether to shoot or pass the moment he gets the basketball.
“Huy, mukha kang tanga doon. Kung takot ka, ipasa mo,” said Guiao while giving Ighalo a piece of his mind.
And who would forget Poy Erram, when he was still playing for the Road Warriors? In one of the huddles, the 6’8” former Ateneo center, then a developing big man, didn’t escape Guiao’s tongue lashing.
“Magpalakas ka ng katawan. Ang dali-dali mong itulak,” shouts Guiao.
None of the players would take these things personally on Guiao, who calls this approach as tough love.
“I don’t want to coach somebody who is not happy, although marami akong players na pinagagalitan, but you can ask them if they want to stay with me or not and I would say probably they would stay with me. ‘Yun ‘yung tough love na sinasabi namin. Mahal namin ang isa’t-isa, but we’re tough on each other,” said Guiao during the second session of the Arangkada! Breakfast With The NLEX Road Warriors.
True enough, players really want to give it all, playing and wanting to win for Guiao and the entire squad. Outside of the marquee players who are in the roster, the unheralded players often get the share of the spotlight.
A classic case are Raul Soyud and Ighalo, players relegated at the reserve list the past few years, but worked their way to earn roster spots. In fact, Soyud became a vastly-improved big man as he was among the candidates for the Most Improved Player award in last year’s Bubble tournament and his performance was enough for him to be included in the Gilas Pilipinas pool.
Miranda, on the other hand, was a forgotten forward and Guiao was the one who took a chance on the bruising player, who had a breakout performance in last year’s Bubble tournament, sinking all of his eight shots from the field and playing a perfect game in NLEX’s 124-90 rout of powerhouse San Miguel Beer.
“Kapag ginamit mo ‘yung player, bigyan mo ng mga seven to eight minutes and then give him a chance in that seven to eight minutes to get another chance of going back to the court. When a player knows that, sa practice pa lang, magpupursige yan,” said Guiao.
That’s why from the players of the Road Warriors, hearing a swearing from Guiao is like music to their ears. It was like receiving a term of endearment from the seven-time PBA champion coach, who just wants to make everybody on the team better.
In Guiao’s team, every player or member of the staff is treated equally. No star attitude. Only star effort.
“Kapag mayroon kang isang player na tini-treat mo in a different way, that’s also going to slowly erode ‘yung concept niyo of a team. Puwede kong pagalitan si Kiefer just as much as puwede kong pagalitan si Raul Soyud. If they make the same mistakes, ganu’n rin dapat ‘yung treatment. Kiefer Ravena understands that. Kevin (Alas) understands that. JR (Quiñahan) understands that. Mas pinagagalitan ko pa nga sila eh. Alam din ‘yun ng mga players down the line, 15th player, 14th player,” said Guiao.
Guiao makes sure everybody gets the message — and it’s called tough love.