Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Rain or Shine
8 p.m. – Alaska vs San Mig
Manila, Philippines – All Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos has to revisit in their rematch with Rain or Shine today is the rebound difference from when they first met in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup.
The Elasto Painters, who won the Dec. 1 game, 93-81, and handed the Energy Cola their first loss after a 2-0 start, dominated the boards, 54-42, with Raymond Almazan, a reed-thin rookie, grabbing 11 rebounds and JR Quinahan, a wide-bodied 6-foot-3 forward, hauling down 9.
In contrast, 6-foot-9 Mick Pennisi, who likes shooting 3s and roaming the shaded area on defense, just had 7 for Barako Bull while burly Dorian Pena only had 3.
The disparity cushioned Rain or Shine’s 12 missed free throws and Barako Bull’s 10 three-point shots.
Willie Miller, who once played for Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao when both were with Red Bull, had his former coach shaking his head with 23 points, including 7 of 10 from within the arc, 5 assists and just 1 turnover in 32 minutes.
But other than Ronjay Buenafe and, to some extent, Mark Macapagal – all three of them guards – Miller had nobody to back him from inside.
“We survived a great game by Willie. It’s a learning experience for the rookies, needing to guard somebody like Miller,” Guiao said.
As it turned out, it was Pennisi and Pena, both hardened veterans, who were taken to school by Almazan, a former Letran Knight, and Quinahan, who also outscored their elders, 21-7.
At fourth spot with a 5-3 card, Rain or Shine is looking to put some distance between them and the lower rung teams heading to the playoffs. There’s also the possibility of landing a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals if it finishes No. 1 or No. 2.
Barako Bull, on the other hand, hopes to drop the idle Meralco Bolts to No. 9 and move up the ladder.
Both teams are coming off scintillating victories, Rain or Shine over Petron in overtime, 99-95, and Barako Bull over Meralco, 99-86. Game time is at 5:45 p.m. followed by the 8 p.m. clash between Alaska Milk and San Mig Coffee.
San Mig seeks to avenge an 84-80 loss to Alaska last Nov. 22 at the Cuneta Astrodome where Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio and Jayvee Casio steered the Aces to a 19-point lead and weathered a late surge by the Mixers.
James Yap had 19 points that day but had been consistently bothered by a painful bruised elbow on his shooting arm ever since which has effectively hampered his offense. (Tito S. Talao)