4:15 p.m. – Meralco vs Mahindra
7 p.m. – Phoenix vs Rain or Shine
Rain or Shine, Phoenix clash for last playoff spot.
Will Phoenix rise to the challenge? Or will it be Rain or Shine painting the town red?
RoS coach Yeng Guiao is well aware of the progress of newcomer Phoenix Fuel afteer the first two games they played against each other, including an impressive victory early in the elimination round of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
With a quarterfinal slot at stake, Guiao expects war versus the Fuel Masters.
The two teams slug it out in a do-or-die to determine the No. 8 quarterfinalist today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the winner earning the right to face top seed TNT KaTropa.
“They’ve improved a lot from the last conference we played them, and in the eliminations,” said Guiao. “They are a totally different team now because of their new import.”
Guiao is referring to Phoenix reinforcement Eugene Phelps, who is averaging nearly 36 points with 20.50 rebounds through eight games after he took over from the ineffective Marcus Simmons.
The game between Rain or Shine and Phoenix is scheduled at 7 p.m., right after the 4:15 p.m. match between Meralco and Mahindra – a playoff for the No. 4 spot and the last twice-to-beat incentive.
The match between the Bolts and the Enforcer is a virtual best-of-three since the two teams will still face-off in the quarterfinals on Friday at the Big Dome.
Rain or Shine downed Phoenix, 106-89 during the elimination round but the two teams were with their original imports – the Painters with Dior Lowhown and the Fuel Masters with Simmons.
RoS is now with its fourth import in Josh Dollard, who has played two games, delivering 27 points and 14 rebounds in a 108-97 triumph against Star to stay in playoff contention.
In that game, the Painters also got 14 points from Beau Belga while the tandem of Paul Lee and Jeff Chan combined for 20 points that gave Rain or Shine a 5-6 record to end the eliminations.
“We’re slowly getting our import blend with us,” said Guiao. “We’re going to need that going into the playoff against Phoenix. Wala naman kaming karapatan tumingin pa further than this playoff (game).”
“We beat them in the eliminations but I guess it’s a different ballgame now because they have a new import. When we played them, they had a different import. They’ve been a dangerous team all conference long.”
“Kami naman, we struggled a lot. Sila umangat, kami ang bumabagsak, pero sana makabawi,” added Guiao.
Phoenix failed to take advantage of earning an outright quarterfinal spot as it dropped its last two games – against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (96-87) and Alaska (103-87).
Nevertheless, rookie coach Ariel Vanguardia of Phoenix said they will go all-out against Rain or Shine.
“We are thankful that God gave us this chance to redeem ourselves after falling twice to clinch that spot,” said Vanguardia. “Rain or Shine is a veteran team and we have to give them different looks.”
“Playing in games like this will mature us as a team quicker, and hopefully we go deeper and play more games. We like this,” added Vanguardia.