By Jonas Terrado
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Ginebra
Top seed Rain or Shine hopes to hurdle the rampage of streaking Barangay Ginebra San Miguel when they start their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters see an uphill climb trying to beat a Ginebra side which won its last seven games as they seek to draw first blood in the series opener set at 7 p.m.
“Ginebra is playing probably the best basketball in the league,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia. “It’s going to be hard to beat them especially the way they’re playing and coach Tim Cone on their side.”
Rain or Shine is relishing the underdog tag after being pushed to the limit by eighth seed GlobalPort in the quarterfinals before winning their knockout match, 103-97, Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
James Yap rediscovered his knack for delivering in the playoffs by firing 27 points on seven triples, his best performance since joining Rain or Shine since being traded from the Purefoods franchise for Paul Lee in 2016.
Yap will look to continue his unbeaten slate against Ginebra in the semis after emerging victorious in two previous meetings in the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup and 2014 Philippine Cup.
Bulky import Reggie Johnson, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood are expected to carry the bulk of production for Rain or Shine against a Ginebra side which reached the last four despite a 1-5 start.
Ginebra finished the eliminations with five straight victories before sweeping Meralco in their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Import Justin Brownlee has led Ginebra’s turnaround since arriving to replace Chuck Garcia while LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, Sol Mercado and Joe Devance have also provided the spark.
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