STREAKING Meralco guns for solo second place when it goes up against a dangerous Rain or Shine side as teams in the upper bracket of the standings jockey for position in an all-important PBA Governors Cup match Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bolts have brought down two powerhouse squads — the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters (92-86) and just last Sunday, the Alaska Aces (84-74).
In both games, import Mario West was the hero, bringing the Bolts back from double-digit deficits en route to come-from-behind victories.
Meralco will need West’s game-long hustle and offense all the more against Rain or Shine since veteran starting center Reynel Hugnatan is a game-time decision due to the right ankle sprain he sustained late in the game against the Aces.
“It’s clear in our minds that with great effort, the reward is greater. Coming off two straight wins against quality teams, our mindset remains the same — outwork, outhustle and clamp down on defense if we are to win against another quality team,” Gregorio said, whose team is currently in joint second place with Rain or Shine and idle Barako Bull.
And while West has been dishing off superlative performances lately for the Bolts, Gregorio believes it’s still team defense that will catapult his team to another win against the E-Painters, who have had their own share of struggles the past games.
“Defense has been solid for us. We might be inferior in talent pound for pound due to the lack of healthy players, but somehow, our players have bought the concept that with solid defense, it can be done,” added the Meralco mentor.
For Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, the road to solidifying its hold for one of the top four spots remains a daunting task, especially since his gunners like Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood and shooting big men Beau Belga and JR Quinahan have been blowing hot and cold as of late.
But Guiao has maintained his stand, telling his players to keep shooting till they finally regain their confidence.
“Again, we’ve been in a shooting slump our last two games before the Air21 game so my only advice to them is to keep working hard and fire away, not thinking of the misses we’ve incurred in previous games,” said Guiao.
The E-Painters shot 50.6 percent during their 109-95 drubbing of the Air21 Express on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.
Arizon Reid, a former PBA Best Import, is expected to lead Rain or Shine’s offensive as he’ll be ranged against West, who is in his second tour of duty with Meralco.