One can only imagine how Coach Yeng must have felt as the final buzzer sounded.
On one hand, his former wards played with the intelligence and maturity that he instilled in them with all those expletive laden practices and equally expletive laden timeout huddles. On the other, they did it at the expense of him, and his new team.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters rallied from a 10 point half-time deficit to claim a victory over the new team of their former mentor, the NLEX Road Warriors with a final score of 107-97.
Early in the game, the Road Warriors looked like they were reading all of ROS’ plays like a book. It helped that the man who designed their plays is now coaching them. Jansen Rios, the former Soaring Falcon, paced NLEX to a comfy 58-48 halftime lead, contributing 17 points including a buzzer-beating three pointer just before halftime.
Meanwhile, ROS was shooting blanks, missing open shots and even flubbing layups. Fortunately for them, Jewel Ponferada was there to clean up and provide some steady points, leading to his nearly double-double finish with 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Throughout the first half, ROS was playing catch up to an energized NLEX, closing the gap to 1 or 2 points, only to have Kevin Alas or Sean Anthony go on a scoring run to break open the lead yet again. NLEX capped their largest lead at 12 and did a good job maintaining it, for a while.
In the second half, fellow former Soaring Falcon, Don Trollano opened the scoring for ROS. He started a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 4 early in the 3rd quarter. Slowly, the combined scoring efforts of Jeff Chan, Jericho Cruz, and Maverick Ahanmisi began whittling away at the NLEX lead. At the end of the third, ROS had cut the lead by half.
It was in these moments when momentum was on ROS’ side that Coach Yeng’s teachings about going hard yet playing smart were most effective. After clawing back in the third, the Elasto Painters put on a 4th quarter defensive rampage that allowed only 12 points from NLEX. While they were at it, the ROS offense suddenly began to click.
Despite Kevin Alas’ 3-point explosion in the 4th quarter combined with Sean Anthony’s 22 points and 16 rebounds, ROS still had the quicker step on offense, draining shots at a clip that would make any coach proud.
ROS clawed back from being 10 points down in the half to being 10 points up at the final buzzer. All Coach Yeng could do was meet Coach Caloy Garcia at center court for the handshake, and wait for all his “inaanaks” to “mano” him, before entering the locker room to start one of many expletive laden tirades for the growing NLEX Road Warriors.