TWO worthy teams of opposite backgrounds battle for the same ultimate goal as B-Meg and Rain or Shine kick off their PBA Governors Cup Finals showdown Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Benefiting from a three-day rest, the Elasto Painters will be going fresh in Game 1 of the title series against an obviously tired Llamados side, which needed to survive Barangay Ginebra Friday night in a do-or-die encounter to advance.
And for a team still stranger to the kind of situation in the Big Stage, the short break was definitely a big respite for the Rain or Shine franchise.
“Nakabuti yung pahinga sa amin,” admitted coach Yeng Guiao, who steered the Elasto Painters to their first ever Finals appearance, but is gunning himself for a sixth PBA championship.
Game time is at 6 p.m. with Rain or Shine holding a 2-0 edge against B-Meg in its head-to-head encounter this conference.
The last of those two wins, 92-82, came on the last day of the semifinals Wednesday and earned for the Elasto Painters an outright Finals berth.
Match-up wise, Rain or Shine seemed to have the edge as well.
B-Meg coach Tim Cone conceded the Llamados have a smaller backcourt compared to the Painters.
The Llamados have James Yap, PJ Simon, Mark Barroca, Josh Urbiztondo, and Jonas Villanueva in their guard rotation, while the Painters boast of Paul Lee, Ryan Araña, Jeff Chan, and the athletic Gabe Norwood.
“The question is if our guards can hold their own against the Painters’ guards?,” asked Cone during his post game interview following the nail-biting 74-72 win over Ginebra
“But I think with seven games, we can figure things out,” added the 14-time champion coach, who is a title shy from matching the all-time record for most championships won owned by the legendary Virgilio `Baby’ Dalupan.
The American mentor also admitted B-Meg has to find a way to neutralize Jamelle Cornley, who has bullied his way against the Llamados in the past.
“Cornley’s a strong import. We have to be creative, figure out ways to counter the mismatch.” Cone said.
Marcus Blakely, the closer rival of Cornley for the conference Best Import award, said the Llamados have to “dig deep” for the much-needed energy, but ultimately believes B-Meg has what it takes to stay in the game.
“It has to come from within. But our guys understand that. They don’t need motivation,” the 23-year-old import said of the Llamados, who battled Talk `N Text Tropang Texters in seven grueling series to win the Commissioner’s Cup championship.
Two key Llamados from that title squad are currently out due to injuries -- JC Intal and Joe Devance.
Even crafty shooting guard Peter June Simon, who hit the game-winning putback in the sudden-death game against Ginebra, is still nursing a left ankle sprain.
But the 6-foot-1 veteran from North Cotabato will play through it anyway.
“All the way na,” said the B-Meg hero. “Nandito na kami eh. Hindi na pwede isipin yun.”