Wayne Chism back to settle unfinished business for Rain or Shine
MANILA, Philippines - Wayne Chism is back to lead the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, and he’s making sure his second tour of duty with the team ends better than his previous stint.
Chism put up 24 points, 22 rebounds, and 4 assists in his debut this conference during ROS’s 99-89 win over the Alaska Aces on Friday, February 20. What was clear from the opening tip was that It didn’t take long for him to get re-integrated with the squad, seeing as the roster is identical to the one he played with in the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup.
“It’s the same team,” he said. “We got a rookie (Jericho Cruz) that’s out right now, but other than that it’s the same team.”
Chism replaced now former Elasto Painters import Rick Jackson even if the post-oriented big man helped lead the team to a 3-2 record through five games. Team head coach Yeng Guao believed bringing Chism back would help his squad improve even more, and if the game against Alaska is any indication, he’s right.
“It’s a good thing Wayne came in, and Wayne’s adapted to our system. He knows the guys, he knows the team, and he’s in shape. He came in and he was 100% fit,” Guiao said after the win vs. Alaska.
“That helped us a lot in this game and I think Wayne’s game justifies his presence for us in this league. We weren’t mistaken bringing him back.”
Chism worked hard not only on the court but also in the kitchen to get in game shape before coming back to the Philippines. The results were noticeable on Friday, as he was a terror for the Aces on both sides of the floor with his high-energy play.
“Well when you're playing, you practice twice a day, you’ll get in good shape and you’ll lose a couple of pounds. But I guess I just ate pretty much what my wife cooked: a lot of diet, a lot of rice and chicken, a lot of vegetables,” Chism said.
“No pork,” he added. “I was mad, but it made me feel good, so I got up and down the court and played a lot of minutes for my team tonight.”
“His energy is big. That’s one thing: we got out and ran. We were kinda limited in our fastbreak points before, but just with his ability to kind of run with us and get things going, it definitely helped us,” said his teammate Gabe Norwood, who hit big shots down the stretch to seal the win.
Chism’s top-tier performance was necessary with star point guard Paul Lee, who’s averaging 18 points per game this conference, out with an elbow injury on Friday. The team learned they would have to suit up without Lee just before tip-off, but in usual Rain or Shine fashion, many other guys made up for his absence.
Norwood put up 14 markers, Jeff Chan was on fire from downtown and racked up 18 points, and Jonathan Uyloan finished with 9 points, including hitting a critical 3-ball late in the contest.
“I think that’s also a product of our system. A product of Coach Yeng,” Norwood said. “He kind of has guys ready all the time. Everybody plays minutes, whether Paul is there or not, so I think everybody was mentally ready to step up because that’s what we’re used to doing.”
“We all trust one another. We trust each other to take big shots and make big plays. And Wayne is part of that system. He was here last year.”
Last Commissioner’s Cup ended in disappointment for Rain or Shine, as they had to fight through a number of injuries to key rotations players and was swept by Talk ’N Text, 3-0, in the semis.
Norwood says health is still an issue the team faces, saying “I don’t think we’ve been healthy as a team this whole year so far.”
Lee’s injury isn’t serious according to his head coach, but a lingering elbow issue could throw him off his game for the foreseeable future. Cruz, a huge contributor in the 2015 Philippine Cup eliminations, has yet to recover from his fractured ankle.
Norwood also considers consistency a problem for the 4-2 Elasto Painters, who's given up leads a number of times this conference. “We have to be consistent from beginning to end. Even [against Alaska], we almost had a lead slip away, which happened in our two losses also this conference,’ he said.
But assuming ROS gets relatively healthy for their playoff run, utilizes a consistent rotation, and remedies their up-and-down play, they will be the kind of opponent no other PBA contender would want to face: deep, talented, unselfish, pesky, and battle-tested.
“I feel like they got better over the last couple of conferences without me, and that’s great because they have more confidence in themselves without an import,” Chism complimented his teammates.
His mission is simple: “It feels good especially with the confidence from coach having in me, especially from the last conference I was here. [I have to] carry it on to this conference and help the team get back to somewhere they’ve always been playing, and that’s the finals.”
“I feel like it’s going to be a hard quest to conquer, but I’m down for the challenge and it’s going to be a long fight."