5 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs San Miguel (Game 4)
*-RoS leads best-of-5 series, 2-1
A prodigal son has returned to gatecrash Rain or Shine’s pre-finals victory party.
But Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao is not inclined to roll out the red carpet for Arizona Reid, who flew in yesterday to help San Miguel Beer get past his former team in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Summoned for emergency duty after the Beermen fired Tyler Wilkerson over a number of offenses that came to a head during a dugout incident in the aftermath of a Game 2 loss a few days ago, Reid will suit up for Game 4 tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with SMB trailing RoS in the best-of-5 series, 2-1.
Reid led Rain or Shine to the 2014 Governors’ Cup finals where they lost to Grand Slam-bound San Mig Super Coffee in six games before getting released by the E-Painters in favor of a bigger import the following year.
He was picked up by San Miguel in 2015, playing a cameo role in the Beermen’s doomed Commissioner’s Cup campaign before forming a deadly combination with 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo for the ensuing Governors’ Cup where SMB swept the Alaska Aces in four games in the finals, giving Reid his first PBA championship and third Best Import trophy.
It is in that conference that Reid first took on his old teammates, powering the Beermen to a 3-1 victory over RoS in the best-of-5 semis and in the process figuring in a mild verbal spat with Guiao.
The possibility exists that incident will resurface in Game 4, considering what is at stake: a return trip to the finals for RoS and a shot at the only championship that eluded them last season for the Beermen.
It isn’t likely,though, Reid will have his loyalties confused.
He visited the Beermen early in the Commissioner’s Cup last month, joined them in a couple of practices and then went home, looking forward to returning around July in time for SMB’s defense of the Governors’ Cup title.
But a confluence of events led to the sacking of Wilkerson Tuesday and a call was made to the east coast for Reid to pack his bags and fly direct to Manila after the Beermen won Game 3 without an import two days later.
Guiao brushed off the wasted opportunity to sweep a vulnerable all-local SMB team.
“I think we just postponed our trip to the finals,” Guiao told Bulletin-Tempo. “My feeling is we’ll get there, only in a longer while. We’re still positive about our chances. It’s also too ambitious for us to sweep San Miguel. Medyo naging possibility siya nung una pero alam natin mahirap gawin.”
The forthcoming showdown with his former import isn’t bothering Guiao either.
“In terms of adjustments, we’re in a position to adjust better. With AZ, coming in on a short notice, and playing a do-or-die game, iba pa din yun sa nag-umpisa ka ng first conference,” said Guiao even as he conceded an important fact.
“It’s always a problem for us because magandang combination si AZ and June Mar. But I still feel we have the advantage coming in Sunday. Defensively we just have to step up in challenging their three-point shots,” he said.
That would mean taking on the resurrected Marcio Lassiter (30 points in Game 3), Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, and, now, AZ Reid, as well.
No problem for the E-Painters.
“Tatlong beses na namin tinalo SMB this conference including one in the eliminations. It’s not bad to be 3-1 against them and have a chance to close them out on Sunday,” Guiao said.
Leo Austria, the SMB coach, is fully aware of that, choosing mirth over analysis after surviving Game 3.
“We’re lucky dahil nanalo kami ngayon. If not, baka kasama na kami sa Boracay Cup,” he said.
True, although, for sure, there are other flights leaving for the island beach paradise anytime, and the Beermen can still make it if the decision to fire Wilkerson and bring in Reid doesn’t pan out.