by Waylon Galvez
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m. – San Mig vs Air21
5:45 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs Rain or Shine
Manila, Philippines – Rain or Shine tries to solidify its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs as it battles defending three-time champion Talk ’N Text today in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters, who are carrying an 8-3 record, are also eyeing to avenge their 90-87 loss to the Tropang Texters last Dec. 17 in the second game of the Petron Saturday Special at 5:45 p.m.
San Mig Coffee and Air21 meet in a crucial battle for a spot in the playoffs in the 3:30 p.m. opener.
The chances of Rain or Shine to secure the quarterfinal bonus improved after Talk N’ Text and Petron Blaze absorbed a pair of upset defeats last Wednesday
Talk N’ Text lost to Air21, 102-100, after wasting a six-point lead in the final three minutes while Petron blew a double-digit lead to suffer a 92-88 defeat at the expense of Barako Bull.
Petron, which is playing against Globalport at presstime, is tied with Rain or Shine at 8-3, while Talk ’N Text remains at No. 4 with a 7-4 mark.
Both results have given Rain or Shine a chance to get closer to the twice-to-beat incentive.
“We’ve had the lucky breaks with other teams setting the opportunity for us to improve our chances to earn that twice-to-beat. It’s really up to us now to help ourselves. We’re on a four-game streak, so the moral is high,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“That is now our biggest motivation, to get to the top two and earn twice-to-beat,” added Guiao, whose team stretched its winning streak to four with a victory against Globalport last Sunday (98-87).
Guiao knows it will be very difficult facing a team like TNT, especially after the Texters’ setback to the Express.
Not only that, Rain or Shine has yet to win against Talk ’N Text in five tries that began in last season’s Philippine Cup finals when the Tropang Texters won the title via a four-game sweep.
“We can only go forward, I don’t really look on the historical record. Of course mabigat na kalaban ang Talk ’N Text lalo na they are coming off a loss. They are certainly eager to bounce back,” said Guiao.
The fiery mentor is wary of Talk N’ Text’s depth that includes Gilas Pilipinas members Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Larry Fonacier and Ranidel de Ocampo, and mainstays Ryan Reyes, Harvey Carey and Sean Anthony.
But Guiao’s ability to go with a 14-man rotation makes Rain or Shine a deadly opponent.
“I used to rotate only 11 to 12 people, and dito sa PBA marami na ‘yun. But now, imagine 14 players all having their minutes. It’s just a matter of adjusting with the playing time, and the players have adopted well. That’s reason why we are successful I guess,” said Guiao.
“It’s highly unorthodox (having 14 players in the rotation), pero napag-kakasya naming. Everyone’s playing well. I don’t know how long it will last, but the optimism is high. We are putting our trust in the system.”
Rain or Shine’s rotation includes guards Paul Lee, Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, Ryan Arana, Jireh Ibanes, TY Tang, and rookies Jeric Teng and Alex Nuyles, and frontline players Beau Belga, Jervy Cruz, JR Quinahan, Larry Rodriguez and rookie Raymond Almazan.