RAIN or Shine big man Beau Belga admitted missing injured 'Extra Rice Inc.' partner JR Quinahan, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Without the wide-bodied big man out of the University of Visayas, Rain or Shine's already undersized frontline has to rely a lot on Belga with help from rookie slotman Raymond Almazan and Larry Rodriguez in its campaign in the season-ending PBA Governors Cup.
However, the Elasto Painters' lack of size became none more pronounced than in a 92-97 loss to bitter rival San Miguel Beer last week when the Beermen's 6-10 center June Mar Fajardo dominate the paint on the way to a career-high 28 points and 18 rebounds.
Worse, Belga and Almazan fouled out one after the other midway through the fourth period trying to stop the vastly improved Cebuano big man.
That was one time Belga terribly missed the equally beefy Quinahan, he confided to Spin.ph.
“Medyo nami-miss ko si JR,” Belga said just before he left on Wednesday for Rain or Shine’s crucial match against Talk 'N Text in this conference’s first road game in Binan, Laguna.
“Unang-una, kilalang kilala na namin ang isa’t isa,” Belga said of Quinahan, who has been his teammate at Rain or Shine for the last three PBA seasons. "Alam na namin ang gagawin namin. Saka di ako kinakabahan kapag nasa loob siya ng court. Eh yun ang nami-miss ko.”
Without Quinahan, Belga said he has to do more for the Panters while acting as “mentor” as well to the 6-7 Almazan, in the hope of fast-tracking the development of the reed-thin former NCAA MVP.
Belga is confident Almazan is bound to become a force to be reckoned with in the pro league, but he insisted he won't advice the former Letran star to gain weight and become a potential member of the 'Extra Rice' group.
“Di ko masasabi kung kailangan pa niya magdagdag ng weight, kasi baka di siya sanay pag ganun," said the 27-year-old former Philippine Christian University standout. "Pero ang lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya, tibayan niya lang ang paglaro niya kapag nasa game siya.”