A WELL-RESTED Rain or Shine side tries to bring its defensive spunk and sky-high confidence against Petron Blaze when the two teams begin their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters have won eight straight games dating back to the midway point of the eliminations. They blew past Globalport Batang Pier, 106-96, in the quarterfinals to book the first Final Four slot.
Coach Yeng Guiao has high hopes the team can carry the momentum over to the game against a Boosters team led by sophomore big man June Mar Fajardo in the 8 p.m. game.
“It’s just enough for us to get rested. We’re not stale because we’re physically and mentally refreshed from the eliminations up to the quarterfinals,” said Guiao.
Guiao feels the team is playing according to its strength, from the veterans down to its three prized rookies in Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng, and Alex Nuyles.
The outspoken Rain or Shine mentor acknowledged the team now has better offensive tools to go up against the Boosters in both the wing and backcourt, although admittedly the Elasto Painters frontcourt needs to find an answer to the inside presence of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo.
“The only biggest concern we have is the size because of our match-up against June Mar,” noted Guiao.
However, he felt the Elasto Painters have the advantage in terms of manpower because of the added depth brought by their rookies.
“I think mas malalim ang rotation namin ngayon in terms of player usage. Our three rookies made us deeper so that I think is the difference,” said Guiao, whose team relinquished its Governors Cup crown last season when it lost to the Boosters, 1-3 in their semifinal encounter.
Petron coach Gee Abanilla, on the other hand, recognized the danger of facing a Rain or Shine squad whose eight-game winning streak is the longest this conference.
“I think they (Elasto Painters) are well-oiled. They play great defense and right now, they are hitting their outside shots,” Abanilla said, referring to Rain or Shine’s array of gunners such as Jeff Chan and big boys Beau Belga and JR Quinahan, whose outside shooting could easily extend Petron’s defense in the perimeter.
With Fajardo back to game shape, the Boosters hope to get as much production from their young center, while expecting more contributions from reigning MVP Arwind Santos, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, and Alex Cabagnot.
Fajardo is averaging career-high numbers of 15.0 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks this conference.