By Jerome Lagunzad
Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia believes the Elasto Painters can make a deeper playoff run in the 2018 Honda Commissioner’s Cup as long as they can keep themselves healthy and injury-free.
“I think as long as we’re healthy, may chance kami (to make it back to the semifinals),” he told Tempo-Bulletin in a phone interview yesterday. “Lahat naman sila alam namin na makakapag-contribute. We just want them to give their best once they’re inside the court to give ourselves a better chance of winning.”
The Elasto Painters can help Garcia realize those in earnest if they can make sure that they are in their best shape possible ahead of their opening assignment against the Alaska Aces on April 27 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
So far, former two-time league MVP James Yap is still recuperating from a calf muscle tear while playmaker Chris Tiu is making sustained recovery from a hamstring injury and new addition Norbert Torres is still trying to get his usual conditioning back after going under the knife to remove bone spurs on his right foot.
Even wide-bodied American reinforcement Reggie Johnson, whom Garcia feels can give the Elasto Painters the imposing inside presence that they’ve been lacking, is still doing his best to put himself in his best fighting form.
“Medyo kulang pa siya sa laro,” said Garcia of the burly 6-foot-10 Johnson, a one-time World Best Import in the ASEAN Basketball League after leading the Westports Malaysia Dragons to the 2016 title alongside Fil-Canadian sniper Matthew Wright.
That’s why Garcia is hoping Johnson can make the most of their hectic stretch in tuneup matches starting today against Blackwater. Then Rain or Shine will take on Phoenix tomorrow and wraps it up against Meralco on Friday.