PBA: Greg Smith, Rain or Shine off to good start after ‘clean slate’
MANILA, Philippines—Rain or Shine finally notched its first win in the PBA Governors Cup on Sunday, slipping past Blackwater, 122-117, to end its four-game dry spell.
New import Greg Smith II anchored the Elasto Painters’ breakthrough win in his PBA debut that seemed more like a return of sorts given that he was the team’s original choice for the 2016 Governors’ Cup but went just a hairline past the height limit and was replaced by Dior Lowhorn.
“Coach (Yeng Guiao) said this is a clean slate. 0-0 at this point. 1-0 now. But you know, he said that he wants to reset everything that happened before and you know make this just a new opportunity for everybody,” the American forward told reporters on his way out of Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
Smith showed why Rain or Shine sought his services, making five of his eight attempts from distance on his way to a 38-point outing that went with six rebounds and five assists in close to 35 minutes of action.
Not bad for someone who had been inactive for about half a year after the birth of his first child. The last time he played competitive basketball was during ESPN’s The Basketball Tournament.
But a chance to finally come through for Rain or Shine and straighten things out was just too hard to pass up on, he said.
“I wasn’t particularly looking to play soon only because (my son) is so young. But this opportunity was something I really wanted to do because, like I said, back in 2016, I wanted to be here and this is a place that I really do feel comfortable in. Now I’m here, hopefully, we could win some games now,” said Smith, who replaced Michael Qualls.
Smith’s arrival couldn’t be more timely for Guiao and his crew. At 1-4, the Painters still have six more games on tap and a number of those are winnable.
Up next for Rain or Shine is Terrafirma, followed by Magnolia, NLEX, and then Phoenix. The rugged crew then goes up against NorthPort before ending the elimination phase against San Miguel Beer.
Smith knows that it’s a totally different task having to lead a team that’s trying to turn its campaign around as opposed to helping it to annex a second PBA crown—his original mission from nearly seven years ago.
But he was just as firm in saying that both tasks pack the same kind of pressure.
“I still think it’s the same kind of pressure. This is a proud program. I know Gabe (Norwood) is a champion, Beau (Belga) is a champion. These guys are looking to win,” Smith said. “I think it’s the same kind of pressure as if I came in 2016: To go ahead and try to get us into the playoffs and make something happen.”
“I feel like—especially with the locals that we have, that if we can get there (to these playoffs), we can beat somebody and make it a game at least,” he said.
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