Rain or Shine counting on rookie Nambatac to step up in grieving Ahanmisi's absence
Rey Nambatac played 13 quality minutes in his Rain or Shine debut. Jerome Ascano

RAIN or Shine goes for its last push before the holiday break when it takes on Blackwater in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Coming off an 82-79 win over TNT KaTropa in their season-opener last Friday, the Elasto Painters return to the grind against rejigged Elite before they can go on a New Year vacation.

“Hindi naman,” ROS coach Caloy Garcia said when SPIN.ph asked if they’re already excited to go on vacation on the eve of their matchup that tips off at 4:15 p.m. where they are gunning for a share of the lead with NLEX and San Miguel Beer.

“Sabi ko sa mga players kanina na we can’t take this game lightly dahil we know Blackwater’s a lot better than in the past, having si (Raymar) Jose and (Mac) Belo play for them now has made them tougher,” he added.  

Blackwater lost to Meralco, 103-98, in their season-opener last Friday, but the silver lining was Jose putting up a solid debut with 16 points, six boards, and two assists, without committing a single turnover in almost 22 minutes as a starter.

The E-Painters are again taking the court with a shorthanded lineup without injured Jericho Cruz, Jay Washington, Jireh Ibanes.

What’s worse is they will also be without playmaker Maverick Ahanmisi, who has yet to arrive from the US where he is grieving the passing of his grandfather.

“Hindi siya nakauwi, so others have to step up,” Garcia said, although James Yap is available after playing limited minutes in the first game due to a minor injury.  

That gives ROS rookie Rey Nambatac more exposure after making an impression in his own debut last Friday when he tallied five points and five boards in less than 13 quality minutes against the Texters.  

“Ayaw ko siyang biglain,” Garcia said. “Syempre depende rin how he plays on the floor. He has to just learn the ropes first.”

“But tomorrow, maybe he can play longer kasi wala si Mav at si Jericho,” he added of his former Letran ward.

TNT seeks to bounce back from its defeat against ROS as it faces Alaska, another team that lost its opener, in the second game at 7 o’clock.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos