WHY YENG GUIAO WORKS

Technical fouls for profanity. For the middle finger. For directly fighting a player of the opposing team. For lashing out against the officiating. Getting banned from semifinal games. Calling out coaches of opposing teams. For another profanity. Another suspension. The commissioner has even called him “unbecoming” of a coach. 

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You can say he’s SPG. Or even Rated R. You can say he’s a bad example to our young. You can say he’s one of the most polarising figures in Philippine Basketball. But you can’t argue with the results. And even the love of his players. 

 

If you look at Wikipedia, he has 6 championships with three teams: Swift, Red Bull and Rain or Shine. 

If you look at the sidelines, yes, he’s the bald coach with arms folded, eyes focused, with fire running in his veins. He has also coached the National Team, and he has made champions out of teams that aren’t necessarily stars or the most athletically gifted of the lot. 

 

So whether you like him or hate him, his style works. And somehow, some players respond tho this style. And even fans. Maybe on a cultural level, he represents us. 

 

 

Here’s why he works. 

 

1. Machismo.

 

Basketball, despite being more accessible now to ladies, is still dominantly and even decidedly masculine. It’s played by boys. A lot of rules are built for boys. Coaches, locker rooms, venues, and language is still boy-skewed (which reveals a lot, I guess, why it’s still immature in some respects). 

 

The Guiao approach appeals to this. His language, metaphors, and demeanor are very machismo-inspired, which his players – usually macho-mentality-inspired, too – appreciate.

 

Some examples:

“I will go to war with these men.” 

                         

During the Red Bull days. That’s some Braveheart Stuff. 

 

““Even in their body language, even in the way they carry themselves. Never show me that you are going to give up anything in this series, even if we’re down 1-3. Pag pinakita nila sa akin yun, sabi ko, ‘tatapusin ko yung career nila dito (in the PBA). 

 

“There are no ready-made superstars in this team.”

 

 Clear on no special treatments. 

 

He seems to talk to them in a way which we colloquialize as “Usapang Lalaki.” You know it’s straightforward. You know he means no nonsense. And you know he means business. We will win. Or we all die. It’s as simple as that.

 

And he keeps it simple, too. 

 

It’s almost kanto-ball every night. Sure he knows his X’s and Os and his back-cuts and screens. But at the end of the play, he’s going to make sure that you fought hard over the screen, or make sure that your head wasn’t somewhere else, or that you played defense like a man. Wesley Gonzales and Paolo Bugia, his former players, tweeted some motivational quotes from Coach Yeng. Here’s an example: 

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Doesn’t it remind you of other coaching greats which aren’t necessarily society-conformists, or sometimes even called assholes? Like Bobby Knight, and even Gregg Popovich. 

 

 

2. Ginebra-ism lives. 

 

Speaking of reminding you of other coaches, doesn’t his “never say die” attitude remind you of the Big J? I know some Ginebra fans might be cringing a bit here, but look at this piece in the Bulletin that came out this week: 

 

 

“I told them not to show any signs that they’re no longer going to put up a fight, that they’re giving up,” – BULLETIN 

 

He has this knack for transforming a group of almost ragtag players who aren’t the most athletically gifted, into a swashbuckling and even powerhouse contender. Everywhere he goes, he makes winners. Underdogs into fighting dogs. 

 

And because he has this spirit, and because the Pinoys always love the underdog, the inapi, the kinawawa, the achiever despite the odds, he has a place in our hearts. Albeit secretly for some. 

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jawo shows up at the Rain or Shine locker room at halftime, too.

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3. He is passion unsheathed. 

 

 Okay. Some say his style is too physical. Some say his players get away with too much. This accusation, though, is old hat. It’s been called of Jawo. And hey, that’s what rules are for. If he really goes too much, then shouldn’t we change the rules? So I guess so far, he goes within the boundary of the rules – as far as he could take them. 

 

But I guess this physicality, this almost lion-like approach to the game comes from a heart that just wants to play this game with fire. 

 

Yeng Guiao, like most of us, also wears his heart on his sleeve. His passion for the game and for winning is never guarded under pretences of coolness or control. He’s not only what you see is what you get. He makes you see he’s fired up, too. 

 

 

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And being Pinoy, is there any other way to play? 

 

These are just some reasons why his players love him. Even Big Beau Belga, who professed such when Rain or Shine defeated Petron Blaze in the semis. This was after the game Yeng Guiao wasn’t allowed to go to because of a suspension. Even if Belga gets his share of fire and brimstone from his coach. I don’t know about you, but when you get a guy like Belga to even like you, I think you’re probably doing something right. 

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“Naglaro kami ng ganyan para sayo, coach, kasi mahal ka namin”  – Beau Belga to Yeng Guiao 

 

 

On a scale of 1 to Yeng Guiao, how angry are you?

My hunch is that the cameras aren’t ready just for the game and the acrobatic plays, but for the antics and drama on the sidelines. These are usually supplied by the coaches. The people who are quick to give credit to their boys when they win, but they man up to own the losses. It’s a thankless job. In a country where every citizen thinks he’s a coach, the pressure is immense. But every now and then, we get to see their human side. 

 

They add colour to the game. And because we play this game with a lot more passion than we probably ought, it’s no wonder that these guys wear their team’s hearts on their sleeves. 

 

So here’s an anger scale. Next time something pisses you off, think. Just how how angry are you? What should you do about it? It’s not a personality test, mind you. The answer can definitely change depending on the situation. 

 

If it’s not yet clear, I don’t mean any harm or disrespect. 🙂 

 

Well, in any case, if you’re angry, and you feel that one of the descriptions match your current state — check out what to do, or what kind of friends you should have around you. 

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Juno Sauler 

 

Angry? What’s that? 

 

 

Ryan Gregorio / Gee Abanilla  

 

You think you’re angry, but you still look like a nice guy.

“Hey come on. Call a technical on me, ref.”

 REF: “Galit na kayo coach? Ang cute niyo palang magalit.”

 

Norman Black

You’re growling, you’re seething, you’re scowling

sometimes you’re shouting 

but once you talk it through with the people you’re working with, your voice is cold as steel. 

You’ll be fine. 

 

 

Chot Reyes 

 

You’re probably doing something crazy on the bench.

You’ll have a verbose endgame chat with the reporters. 

 

At least you’re the best dressed man who’s doing all of that.  

 

Pido Jarencio 

 

You’re probably doing something crazy on the bench, and you want the camera to see it. 

From the Jaworski school of “kawawa naman kami!” 

Like motioning the “kill” gesture with your hand going across your neck.

 

Just go back to your “puso” figures of speech, and make sure you calm down that “puso” kasi baka high blood na yan. 

 

Tim Cone 

 You’ll still be waving your hands in the air three to four plays after. Or even after a timeout. Even when the referee himself has forgotten what you’re complaining about. 

And you’ll be bright pink in the face, too. Mestiso, eh. 

Get a good assistant like Dickie Bachman or Joel Banal who are bigger than you to calm you down. Or a cool customer like The Jet. 

 

 Yeng Guiao 

 

Let’s just say you might have been the cause of the PBA’s MTRCB rating of PG.

 

From daring the referee to throw you out to getting suspended from crucial games for using the wrong finger to point – name it, you can do it once you’re angry. 

 

Just make sure your team has good players willing to fight for you. (Beau Belga: “We did this for you coach!”) A management that understands. And a hundred thousand pesos every time this happens. 

 

I keep thinking, though, that somewhere, Gregg Poppovich might just be laughing at all this.