|With his work ethic shown brightly last season, Raul Soyud has been nominated for the Most Improved Player. PBA Images (file photo)|
MANILA—NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is among those who are least surprised that Raul Soyud is nominated for the Most Improved Player award during the past PBA season.
After all, the burly power forward would have not even be considered for the award if not for his hard work.
"Hindi naman siya yung tipong magaling na agad eh. Kailangan niya talagang kumayod para gumaling and nakita nating nagpursige siya," Guiao said on Wednesday.
While he was essentially elevated by Blackwater to the PBA from its D-League squad by drafting him in the third round of the 2014 draft, the then newcomer eventually let him go, paving the way for NLEX, which came in by buying the old Red Bull franchise, which became the second incarnation of the Air21 Express, to sign him up.
But it was when Guiao came to the team that Soyud slowly but surely blossomed.
While JR Quiñahan remains the Road Warriors' main big man, Soyud held his own, averaging 10.0 points highlighted by a career-high 27, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game last season as he became one of their key players in their late run to the playoffs.
Although they barely missed out on making the quarterfinals, Soyud's breakout season was recognized, earning him MIP nomination.
Guiao believes if how Soyud has become so far will be considered as well, he may have a strong case for the MIP.
"If you'll know his background, his story is indeed interesting to tell," Guiao said.
Soyud first starred for West Negros University early into his college career.
Seeing his potentials, University of the Philippines then secured Soyud's transfer, but the fact that the team had stale performances during his two-year stint hurt his chances of getting drafted early.
Soyud slowly worked his way up, and now, he has become an inside force for NLEX despite only a few observers noticing it.
"Walang nakakapansin masyado kay Raul kahit napakaganda ng ginagawa niya," Guiao said in a Nov. 4 interview.
However, he added that this would not have been possible as well if he did not instill discipline on him.
"I've demanded a lot from Raul. Gusto ko na ihigit pa yung laro niya.... I guess umubra na naman yung mga sigaw at mura ko kay Raul," Guiao further said in the past interview.
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