MANILA – Rain or Shine is bringing in one more import to bolster its campaign as the country’s representative to the coming 42nd Jones Cup in Taiwan.
Head coach Yeng Guiao told the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday the Elasto Painters are tapping 6-foot-10 Nick Evans to team up with naturalized player Ange Kouame in reinforcing the squad for the August 12-20 tournament.
Admitting the team is lacking in size, Guiao said the presence of both Kouame, who is also 6-foot-10, and Evans would definitely come in handy for the Elasto Painters.
“When we saw the lineup of teams and the ones we could compete with, the competition was strong. So management decided to bring in another import. We will have Ange Kouame and si Nick Evans, who’s coming in maybe by Saturday or Sunday to join us,” the former Gilas Pilipinas coach said during the weekly forum at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Evans, a veteran big man who had stints in Japan, Colombia, Thailand and Lebanon, will start practicing with Rain or Shine on Monday before the team leaves for Taiwan on Aug. 11.
“It's cramming again. It's just a few rehearsals, then we'll compete in the Jones Cup,” added Guiao, the former congressman and vice-governor of Pampanga, who is in his third Jones Cup stint.
A total of nine teams are seeing action in this year’s Jones Cup, which is making a comeback after a three-year absence following the outbreak of the pandemic.
Guaio said national teams of Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Taipei (Teams A and B) are competing alongside the Japan U-20 team, a US team represented by the University of California-Irvine, and reigning KBL (Korean Basketball League) and EASL (East Asia Super League) champion Anyang KGC bannered by former NBA player Omari Spellman.
“Let's see, maybe we can compete. (But) we’ll represent the country the best way we can,” Guiao said in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, MILO, Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Represented by Mighty Sports, the Philippines won two of the last four editions of the Jones Cup before the pandemic, including its last staging in 2019 behind a team backstopped by imports Eugene Phelps, Renaldo Balkman, and McKenzie Moore, along with Fil-Ams Jeremiah Gray, Jason Brickman, and Roosevelt Adams.
“The difficult thing here is that there is pressure because the previous team (ours) before the pandemic, won the championship. But we saw that they have five imports",” Guiao said. “So ours is really organic, it's an organic team. So there is a big difference between having five imports and an organic team like ours."
Guiao also took the opportunity to thank Rain or Shine co-team owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que for not hesitating to take the offer by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) through the PBA for the team to take part in the Jones Cup.
"We are thankful to Boss Terry and Boss Raymund because even when it comes to lending players or talent to the national team, they did not think twice,” he said, recalling the same gesture the two PBA owners did when he also coached the Gilas Pilipinas team in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
The entire Rain or Shine team, including veteran Gabe Norwood who cut short his US vacation, will be going to the Jones Cup where the Elasto Painters will play eight games in nine days. (PNA)