ROOKIE big man Raymond Almazan is expected to carry a little more of the Rain or Shine workload as heavyweight center Beau Belga won’t be around when the E-Painters collide with Barako Bull in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-5 Belga missed the team’s past practices due to measles and is expected to sit out the E-Painters’ (5-3) 5:45 p.m. game against the Energy Cola (3-6).
Almazan will be thrust into the spotlight alongside last season’s Most Improved Player Jervy Cruz and Larry Rodriguez as they try to battle it out with Barako Bull’s frontline crew of Mick Pennisi, Dorian Pena and Dave Marcelo.
“Without Beau, kulang kami sa wide body so our small bigs will have to work extra hard against Mick and Dorian,” said Guiao after the team’s early practice on Thursday.
Guiao’s charges are coming off a morale-boosting win against the previously unbeaten Petron Blaze Boosters last weekend, a 99-95 decision in overtime. Rain or Shine handed Petron its first defeat for the season after opening the conference with seven straight victories.
“We’re coming off a win so there is a lot of positive energy in the team,” he added.
Rain or Shine downed Barako Bull, 91-83, during their initial encounter on December 1. That win by Rain or Shine not only snapped Barako Bull’s two-game winning streak to start the season, but it also started a six-game slide by the Energy this month.
But after several close calls during the team’s six-game losing stretch, Barako Bull finally rediscovered its winning touch when it vented its ire on skidding Meralco, 99-86, last Sunday.
Guiao said not much will be changed from the Painters’ approach the last time and they will again focus on preventing the Energy Cola from making shots beyond the arc. The George Chua-owned franchise is averaging nine three-point shots made per contest.
“Our objective like the first time we met them was to stop their three-point shooters. They are a streaky team because when one guy starts to connect, nagtu-tuloy tuloy sila so we want to prevent them from getting into their shooting rhythm,” explained the outspoken Rain or Shine mentor.