SINCE Yeng Guiao took over as Rain or Shine’s head coach starting in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup, there is only one team the Elasto Painters have never beaten in an all-Filipino conference.
And believe it or not, that team is the very same team they’ll be battling in a best-of-seven series for the 2012-13 Philippine Cup starting on Wednesday - Talk ‘N Text.
The two-time defending champions Tropang Texters are 3-0 in the Philippine Cup against Rain or Shine with Guiao as head coach over the last two tournaments.
The first time Talk ‘N Text faced off with a Guiao-mentored Elasto Painters was October 14, 2011 and Harvey Carey came up with 28 points - the second highest output in a game in his career - to go with 14 rebounds as the Tropang Texters won, 107-98.
A month and five days later, the two teams squared off again in Cagayan de Oro City and in that game Jayson Castro scored his team’s final two points in the last 64 seconds of regulation and nine of their 13 in overtime including the game-winner with 1.8 ticks remaining as Talk ‘N Text escaped with a 106-104 win.
In the eliminations of this season’s Philippine Cup, the two squared off just once – last October 27 in Victorias City – and the Tropang Texters won anew 80-77, rallying from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit, led by Larry Fonacier who had eight of his 12 points in that final period.
Talk ‘N Text has actually beaten Rain or Shine in their last six Philippine Cup meetings over the last three seasons.
The last time the Elasto Painters beat the Tropang Texters was in their first meeting in the elims in the 2010-11 Philippine Cup, or on October 20, 2010 to be exact, when the team was still under Caloy Garcia. Rain or Shine won 95-93 courtesy of a buzzer-beating, top-of-the-key jumper by Sol Mercado (then still with the team) over the outstretched hands of Jayson Castro.
Guiao and Rain or Shine are thus looking to beat Talk ‘N Text four times in a span of two weeks, something which the franchise hasn’t done even once in six past meetings against the most dominant team over the last seven conferences.
This is what Guiao and Rain or Shine has to overcome to win their first-ever all-Filipino title as a team and in his head coaching career which began in 1990.
Is this possible?
Here’s what coach Yeng has to say about this: “Maybe now is the time to beat them – when it really matters. The past is not important to us at this point. I have full confidence in my team. We know we have the capability to beat them. That’s what’s important. We are a different team now compared to six months ago and, more so, a year ago.”