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Yeng Guiao admits injury concerns to top big man prospects 'tough problem' ahead of PBA Draft

Yeng Guiao said that Rain or Shine looks to shore up its frontline, but injuries to Zav Lucero and Luis Villegas might play a factor in shaking up their picks. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANDALUYONG--Coach Yeng Guiao did not hesitate in saying that Rain Or Shine will prioritize looking for a big man in the upcoming PBA Draft on Sunday night.

Guiao was at the Gatorade Hoops Center on Wednesday along with his coaching staff for the PBA Draft Combine to scout the record number of aspirants who declared for the draft.

"We're looking for size," said Yeng Guiao, whose Elasto Painters team owns the third and fourth overall picks and has a current roster that has two players listed at six-feet-five but play center.

However, he also said that he might not hesitate to draft the best talent available if he sees him as a potential game-changer for ROS, which had a rough 2023 season but made up for it with a solid showing in the PBA on Tour preseason event although the Jones Cup gave them a reality check.

"Kung meron kang nakikitang talent dyan na sa tingin mo kahit hindi masyadong malaki pero merong talent na yung klase na magkakaroon agad ng immediate impact, magiging mas mahirap na decision yun. We're looking at size, but we're .not discounting talent--whoever has the best talent available when you get to make your choice," Guiao further said.

Various mock drafts believe that Zav Lucero and Luis Villegas are probably the best big men available, but their ongoing recovery from their ACL injuries, as Yeng Guiao admitted, is something the Elasto Painters are still taking into consideration.

"We haven't crossed that bridge yet. Mahirap din yun. Yung tanong doon is 'Are you willing to make that sacrifice of waiting if you're drafting somebody who's still injured? Di pa namin nadedesisyunan yun, but mahirap na problema yun lalo na kung available si Lucero or si Luis Villegas by the time we draft," he further said.

Yeng Guiao willing to wait

However, Yeng Guiao hinted that they might actually take the patience route, all the more that the 2024 PBA season, which kicks off on Nov. 5, begins with the import-spiced Commissioner's Cup.

"Sa tingin ko, merong good side yun. If you're willing to wait, that's something to consider," he further said.

However, Guiao insisted that they have not made up their minds yet on who to select with their back-to-back first-rounders.

"We keep our minds open kasi unang-una at three and four, hihintayin mo pang mag-desisyon yung one (owned by Terrafirma) and two (owned by Blackwater). So keep your minds open and make the assessment, and by the time you reach your turn, yun pa lang naman yung time na kailangan kang mag-desisyon talaga," he added.

Luis Villegas, though, was in attendance during the second day of the PBA Draft Combine, and he was seen having a lengthy conversation with Yeng Guiao at the bleachers.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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