Game Today (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska
Manila, Philippines – Rain or Shine does not expect a repeat of its massive 51-point victory over Alaska in the elimination round when they open their best-of-five semifinal series today in the PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
ROS coach Yeng Guiao said it will be foolish for Rain or Shine to entertain the thought the Aces will again be easy customers following their 123-72 rout last June 4 at the Philsports Arena.
The lopsided victory is the fourth biggest winning margin in PBA history.
But what Guiao does expect in their 8 p.m. series opener is that it will be a bruising battle.
“It will be a grind out Game 1, a grind of a series. The 51-point victory, it only happened once in every 25 years. It will be foolish of us if we think it will happen again,” said Guiao.
“We’re preparing for a hard, close match. More than anything else, they have something to prove. They want to redeem themselves from that loss. A team that wants to prove something is always dangerous to play. They’ll use it as motivation,” he added.
The No. 2 Painters and the No. 3 Aces arranged a semis showdown after dispatching their respective quarterfinal opponents last Wednesday at the Big Dome.
Armed with twice-to-beat incentives, Rain or Shine downed No. 7 Air21, 111-90, while Alaska edged No. 6 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 92-81.
Rain or Shine’s victory extended its conference-best winning streak to six games as Guiao’s team has yet to lose a game this month. The last time the Painters lost was last on May 28 against Talk ’N Text (83-81), a game which turned out to be controversial.
Referee Jimmy Mariano was suspended for four games for failing to award Jeff Chan three free throws when fouled by TNT’s Jayson Castro with four seconds left.
Aside from beating Alaska, Rain or Shine also won during the elimination round against Barako Bull (96-93), Ginebra (117-108), Meralco (104-85), and Grand Slam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee (95-94).
Guiao said they’ve been successful primarily because the players are healthy and their import Arizona Reid is playing very well, averaging 30.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Gilas Pilipinas members Paul Lee and Jeff Chan are backing him up with nearly 12 points per game, while other players expected to step up are Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, Chris Tiu, Ryan Arana and rookie center Raymond Almazan.
“We’re coming together, getting back our teamwork and our cohesion from a disappointing series in the last Commissioner’s Cup,” said Guiao after his team got swept by Talk ’N Text in a five-game semifinals showdown.
“We felt really tired in that series. But this time, this is a welcome relief because we’re generally healthy with out import playing well. We’re looking at an upbeat, highly-motivated Rain or Shine team,” said Guiao. (Waylon Galvez)