IT hasn’t been that long since the Commissioner’s Cup, when Air21 overcame twice-to-beat San Miguel to reach the semifinals.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao clearly remembers, and he looks to keep Air21 from pulling off a similar feat when the the second-seeded and twice-to-beat Painters battle the Express in the Governors’ Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
They face off at 5:45 p.m.
Guiao pointed out that Air21’s size will be a main concern for his team, which relies heavily on undersized big men like Beau Belga, reed-thin rookie Raymond Almazan as well as Jervy Cruz and Larry Rodriguez.
“They are a big team. We had problems with big teams, just like we had problems with San Mig and San Miguel Beer, teams that have big players,” Guiao said, citing that the team’s defensive effort will concentrate on preventing Air21’s evergreen center Asi Taulava and athletic import Dominique Sutton from wreaking havoc inside the paint.
“We have a small team with a small import. Asi will be our problem, their import Dominique Sutton will be a problem so all we can do is rotate our big men, work hard and deny them touches at the low post,” he added.
The 6-foot-4 Sutton averages 25.0 points, 15.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals as he pairs well with Taulava, who at 41, continues to dish off MVP-like numbers of 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds this conference.
Meantime, Air21 coach Franz Pumaren stressed that their defense will have to work well if they hope to force a winner-take-all match on Friday.
He noted that Rain or Shine’s Arizona Reid has been shooting well from the floor, which is why they have devised a game plan that focuses on containing the former Best Import.
“The way AZ Reid is shooting, we need to find ways to minimize his scoring. We also need to slow down ROS and control their offensive weapons,” said Pumaren, whose team scored a 103-96 win over Rain or Shine in their lone elimination round game on May 20.
“We must hold them below 90 points. It's a brand-new challenge for us.”