Manila, Philippines – Stop June Mar Fajardo and you stop Petron.
That will be the battle cry of Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao as the Painters collide with the streaking Boosters today in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo has been one of the major reasons for Petron’s sensational start that saw him terrorize the shaded lane to help Petron win its first seven games in the season-opening tournament.
He’s expected to do it again in their 5:45 duel with the Painters unless Guiao comes up a good defensive strategy on him.
With the experience he gained in playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA-Asia Championship last August, the Cebuano hotshots appears like he’s ready to prove that he’s the best center in the league right now.
And that will be the assignment of Beau Belga, JR Quinahan and rookie Raymond Almazan.
“We have to defend June Mar at the post, the problem is we don’t have a match up for him,” said Guiao. “With his size, he creates match-up problem not just for us but also to other teams.”
The top pick of last year’s draft is averaging 14.5 points, a league-best 17.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Guiao, however, said they have devised a plan in the hope of neutralizing him.
Will it work?
“We’ll try to double-team him, we’ll try to take the ball away from him and we’ll try to deny his touches… although we’re not sure if that will work because he’s playing very well at this moment,” said Guiao.
Rain or Shine is out to end a two-game skid following losses to Globalport (90-88) and Talk N’ Text (90-87) last Tuesday. Both losses put the Elasto Painters at the middle of the pack with a 4-3 record.
“We lost two games. Against TNT, we played one bad half which is the first half, but we’re able to rebound in the second half. We just didn’t make the last shot. I still feel confident that we have the right materials to contend with this team (Petron),” said Guiao.
“As long as we don’t dwell on the negative things, we’ll be okay. What we want to bring is the positive things. In our practice (session), I told the players that we got to try harder, particularly on the defensive and rebounding departments since we’re up against a taller team,” he added.
The Boosters will also rely on Most Valuable Player Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, but Guiao feels his team can match up against their perimeter players.
In the other game, Ginebra shoots for its fourth straight and seventh overall in eight starts when it battles Alaska at 3:30 p.m.
The Kings are coming off a 78-69 win over Air21 where twin towers Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter delivered monster numbers.
Aguilar had 22 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high eight blocks while Slaughter added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Alaska snapped its two-game skid with a 91-82 victory over Meralco. (Waylon Galvez)