RAIN or Shine is off to a fine start but the Painters' first big test this season comes in the form of back-to-back matches beginning on Wednesday night against San Mig Coffee in a rematch of the Governors Cup protagonists at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters, who won a tough seven-game series against the Mixers for the franchise’s first-ever league championship, are in solo second place in the PBA Philippine Cup with a 3-1 win-loss record going into the 7:30 p.m. match against San Mig (2-1).
After San Mig, coach Yeng Guiao’s wards next tackle reigning two-time Philippine Cup champion Talk ’N Text, which is off to a 4-0 start under new coach Norman Black.
The Painters are coming off a 94-83 win over newcomer Globalport Saturday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, and Guiao is hoping their gang-rebounding and bruising style of play will continue to work against the Mixers.
San Mig boasts of vastly improved 6-foot-8 center Yancy de Ocampo, 6-7 Rafi Reavis, 6-7 Joe Devance and 6-5 rookie Aldrech Ramos - a group that should give the undersized and shallow Rain or Shine frontline a lot of problems even if high-leaping Mixers forward Marc Pingris remains a doubtful starter.
“I think for the first time we won on rebounds (against Globalport). That (rebounding) has been our concern for the past games. But we made an effort to win the rebound department against Globalport. And that’s a big improvement for us,” said Guiao.
The Rain or Shine mentor hopes his undersized big man Jervy Cruz will bring his A-game to provide frontline help for Beau Belga and JR Quinahan against San Mig’s phalanx of big boys.
The 6-3 Cruz banged in career-highs of 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a monster game that towed the Elasto Painters to victory over Batang Pier.
"Jervy is one player who has been very consistent for us and it should not be surprising. Whatever na mga pagkukulang niya he more than makes up for with hard work and perseverance. Kaya nga more often than not he rises to the challenge and that makes him a special player indeed,” said Guiao of the former UST Growling Tiger.
Meanwhile, Talk ’N Text stakes its immaculate 4-0 record against Barako Bull (2-2) in the 5:15 p.m. game.
So far, Black’s boys are doing fine four games into the season, beating Meralco (112-110), Globalport (108-104), Air21 (96-89), and just last Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, San Mig Coffee (85-74).
Black said he is pleased with how they held the Mixers to just 74 points. He hopes they could keep playing that same type of defense against the Energy Cola, who are coming off a morale-boosting 92-82 win over Barangay Ginebra.