RAIN or Shine will be one-man less again when it goes up against Meralco in the opener of a Wednesday doubleheader in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters are without team captain Jireh Ibanes in the 5:15 p.m. match as the league’s top Defensive Player last season is out with a fractured hand.
Ibanes suffered the injury in the team’s 71-62 win over Air21 over the weekend in an out-of-town game in Tubod, Lanao del Norte as he tried to go for a steal during the second quarter.
X-rays performed on the 30-year-old Ibanes Sunday revealed the extent of the injury.
Doctors said Ibanes will miss around five to six weeks as he joins the Elasto Painters’ growing list of casualties that includes last season’s Rookie of the Year Paul Lee and no. 7 rookie pick Chris Tiu.
Without Ibanes, coach Yeng Guiao said he does not expect the same 106-81 rout Rain or Shine did against Meralco in their first round encounter.
“Jireh is our top defensive player. He’s our best stopper in the team, kaya yung absence niya makaka-apekto sa match up namin on defense,” Guiao told Spin.ph.
Meralco is coming off a 98-109 setback against sister team Talk ‘N Text.
“We didn’t play defense (against Talk ‘N Text). If we allowed our opponents to score 100 points, 100 percent of the time we lose. They had a 62 percent clip from the two. It is not surprising why we lost,” admitted Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
Despite the loss of Ibanes, the Bolts are still expecting another rugged match up against the Elasto Painters, whose frontline core of Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Jervy Cruz, and Larry Rodriguez are known for their bruising plays.
“We’re ready for that (physical play). But I hope the referees and the technical committee will be more ready,” said Gregorio.