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 

 

 

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