By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Today (Ynares Sports Center)
4:30 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Rain or Shine
Rain or Shine seeks to sustain its hot start and regain the solo lead while NLEX aims to bounce back as they square off tonight in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
The Elasto Painters are determined to rack up their third straight victory and gain a hold of the top spot which they currently share with idle TNT KaTropa in their 7 p.m. showdown with the Road Warriors, who are aching to redeem themselves from a numbing 123-103 stunner dealt by surprising Columbian Dyip over the weekend.
“For as long as we move the ball well, find the open shots and make them, I think we will have a good conference,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, pleased no end with the Elasto Painters’ remarkable offensive performance thus far.
Despite playing their second game in three nights, the Painters hardly showed any signs of slowing down against the debuting Ginebra Gin Kings last Sunday, rifling in 14 made triples and locking it down defensively for an resounding 108-89 victory.
Imposing import Reggie Johnson, after a so-so showing in their 109-103 win over Alaska last Friday, threw his full weight around the Gin Kings in the lane with 32 points and 22 rebounds, complementing the Painters’ torrid outside shooting.
Whether the 6-foot-9 Johnson is really for real will be further known as the Road Warriors are set to unleash former NBA veteran Arnold Moultrie, the original choice of NLEX coach Yeng Guiao who will take over the spot from Adrian Forbes.
Also expected to gain a fair share of the spotlight is the 4:15 p.m. opener between GlobalPort (1-1) and free-falling Blackwater Elite.
The Batang Pier will welcome back Fil-Tongan big man Moala Tautuaa back in the fold after he served a one-game suspension during the team’s thinning 86-85 victory over the Meralco Bolts last Friday.
Meanwhile, the Elite are seeking nothing less than a fresh start in the presence of new coach Bong Ramos, who was tapped to replace veteran tactician Leo Isaac after they dropped their first three matches with an average margin of 17.3 points.
“It is a difficult situation right now but I’m still excited,” said Ramos in a phone interview with Tempo-Bulletin after conducting his first-ever training session with the Elite.
“It’s difficult because we only have one day to practice and then we’ll play the following day. Also, I’m replacing my good friend in coach Leo. Mixed emotions talaga. But I’m excited because it’s a new job that was given to me. I believe that they can do something kung mama-maximize ko sila.”
Aside from Ramos, Joel Co has also been named as the interim team manager in lieu of Johnson Martinez, underscoring the Blackwater management’s aggressive move to help the Elite turn things around.