by Waylon Galvez
Manila, Philippines – A lot of prayers will be recited today as No. 2 Rain or Shine and No. 3 Petron Blaze collide against teams on a mission in the penultimate day of the elimination round of the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters are still in euphoria not only because they have extended their winning streak to a franchise best of six but also the way they fashioned it out.
It was a terrific one.
With 0.7 second left in the game, veteran center JR Quinahan completed a catch-and-shoot play from the 3-point area off a baseline pass by Gabe Norwood to eke out an 89-86 win over the hard-luck Meralco Bolts last Wednesday.
That improved ROS’ record to 10-3, and a win over the Air21 Express at 5:45 p.m. will give them the second twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
The win likewise increased the pressure for the Petron Boosters to make up for a so-so showing against sister team San Mig Coffee also last Wednesday.
For allowing the Mixers to control both ends of the court, the Boosters were beaten black and blue by the Mixers, 112-93.
Interestingly, the Boosters will be playing against the Bolts at 3:30 p.m. with the latter out to score a big win to avoid going into the playoff match.
Though the Express are already out of it with a 3-10 card, ROS coach Yeng Guiao is not taking them lightly.
“We’re not taking this game for granted, we were very serious in the preparation,” said Guiao. “You have to be in the proper mind-set to close out our elimination round. We don’t want to waste all our previous effort if we come into the game not prepared for this one.”
“Yes we have a win streak, but the more you think of the win streak, the more pressure you will feel. So we don’t talk about it as a team. Air21 is a team that could have easily been in the middle of the pack if they have just won a few of its close games, and that is an indication of how dangerous this team is.”
“Our team is well aware of that, so I hope it keeps us on our toes. Also, even if Air21 is out of the race, any team on their situation will always want to close out on a good note. The best way for them to salvage pride and exit with a bang is to win against us,” added Guiao.
While a win will automatically give the Painters twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs, a setback will complicate things if the Boosters win in the other match against Meralco.
If Petron prevails and ROS loses, a playoff will follow to determine which gets the quarterfinal bonus.
Ginebra San Miguel, currently on top with a 10-2 card, is seeking at presstime the No. 1 spot at the first twice-to-beat incentive in the playoff round.
Meralco, at the moment, shares sixth to eighth spots with Barako Bull and Globalport all with 5-8 cards.
“We’re staying on-course. Our losses, stinging as it may be, we cannot be discouraged,” said Meralco mentor Ryan Gregorio. “It took the two best teams in the league, Ginebra and Rain or Shine, one desperation buzzer beater heave to win against us. We just have to persevere and soon I am certain that we will be rewarded.”
“We know the significance of the game. A victory will earn us a slot in the quarterfinals. We are determined to get that done to avoid complications. The pain brought about by our heart-breaking losses compels us to stick to the fight. While we are hardest hit, we must not quit,” added Gregorio.