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PBA: E-Painters clash with NLEX five

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs NLEX
6:45 p.m. – Meralco vs Star

Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao is cutting new import Jason Forte some slack following his so-so showing during the Painters’ big win over Mahindra last Friday.

But Guiao insists Forte has to start making his presence felt as the race for playoff slots in the PBA Governors’ Cup intensifies when the Painters take on NLEX today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Forte, a former import of the now-defunct Air21 and Alaska, played just under 17 minutes in his debut, struggling with 10 points and six rebounds in a 103-88 win.

The victory snapped a two-game losing skid of Rain or Shine and improved its record to 4-4, tied with newcomer Phoenix Fuel, to move closer to a quarterfinal playoff stint.

“Jason Forte had one practice with us,” said Guiao as Forte only arrived Thursday morning. “We expected a hard game against Mahindra. The challenge for us is to gel him as soon as we can.”

Against the Enforcer, the ROS locals did most of the damage for Guiao as center Raymond Almazan scored 14 points, veteran center Beau Belga added 13 points, while guards Paul Lee and Jeff Chan contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively for the Painters.

Against the Road Warriors, Guiao expects his local mainstays to do the same.

“We had a double digit cushion playing all-Filipino (against Mahindra), and maybe it’s a good sign. But we play Sunday, we’re still expecting most of the game we’ll play all-Filipino,” said Guiao.

As for Forte, Guiao said that while it’s understandable he’s still adjusting to the Painters’ system, what he wants from their import is an improved shooting from the free throw line after he went 1-of-8 against Mahindra.

“I told him he can’t miss that too many free throws,” said Guiao. “Because most of the games will be decided by four or five points. Against NLEX, we have to keep running, keep the game fast because that’s our chance in winning.”

NLEX has dropped its last two games, the last one against Mahindra (95-91) last August 26. (WAYLON GALVEZ)