by Waylon Galvez
Manila, Philippines – Both Rain or Shine and Meralco are coming off huge and inspiring wins, but their strength and resolve will be put to test again when they go up against equally talented rivals today in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts of coach Ryan Gregorio finally played true to form as they struck down the “Twin Towers” of Ginebra, 100-87, while the Elasto Painters of coach Yeng Guiao snapped the two-game winning run of Barako Bull, 91-83.
Despite beating Ginebra – fancied by everybody as the team to beat in the season-opening conference – Gregorio cautioned his players against complacency saying Globalport has what it takes to beat anybody in the league.
“They’re overflowing with individual talent. They can flat out score. A shoot-out will be disastrous to us. We have to clamp down on defense, get them to bleed for points and do not allow easy baskets,” Gregorio said.
The game between Meralco and Globalport is set at 5:45 p.m., before Rain or Shine meets San Mig Super Coffee at 8 p.m.
Jared Dilliger produced his best game as a member of Meralco by tallying 25 points and 10 rebounds while Mike Cortez also made his presence felt by posting 21 points and 11 assists as the Bolts improved to 2-2.
Aside from good defense, Gregorio insists that everybody must contribute offensively to have a better chance of winning against a team that tries to live with its run-and-gun type of basketball having a combo of guards in Sol Mercado, and rookies Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia.
“While defense is a must, we also must be efficient in our offense. We’ve hit the 100 point mark the past two games, a positive indication of our fluidity on offense and balanced attack. We must continue to share the ball. Be unpredictable on offense where everyone is a threat,” Gregorio said.
Meralco, however, will miss the services of Reynel Hugnatan, who sprained his right ankle in the first period of the Ginebra game. Also in the injured list are Cliff Hodge (left ankle) and Kerby Raymundo (knee), who are expected to play two weeks from now.
Nevertheless, the Bolts still have a potent unit as Dillinger and Cortez will join hands with Gary David, Rabah Al-Hussaini and John Wilson.
Guiao, on the other hand, must again squeeze the best from its outside shooters to improve their 3-1 record.
Out to lead ROS are Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee and TY Tang.
It was Tang who led ROS the last time by firing 14 points, the bulk coming in the first half.
Despite the absence of two-time MVP James Yap, the Mixers managed to end a three-game losing run by downing Air21 in overtime, 92-83.
As for Globalport, interim coach Ritchie Ticzon put prime on making the extra effort in playing team defense.
“We need to exert extra effort especially on defense. We allowed the opponent to score 100-plus points in the three games we lost. We also have to share the ball on offense,” said Ticzon as his team lost to Ginebra (109-104) and defending champion Talk ‘N Text (106-93) for a 1-3 card.
Romeo, who averages 24.7 points before their TNT game, was held to just 16 points.
The No. 5 overall pick in the Rookie Draft, Romeo was 2-of-13 from the field and 9-of-16 from the foul line. In Batang Pier’s game against Ginebra, he scored 14 of his 27 points in a fourth quarter showdown with Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa.