Tim Cone says facing Rain or Shine will be real test for unbeaten Purefoods Hotshots
"Playing Rain or Shine is always a true test for our guys," said Purefoods coach Tim Cone ahead of the team's game against the Elasto Painters in Dipolog City. Jerome Ascano

AFTER bowling over the opposition in its first four games, Purefoods expects its real test to come on Valentine’s Day when the defending PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion faces Rain or Shine in a Petron Saturday Special road game in Dipolog City.

The Hotshots grabbed a share of the lead with Meralco Bolts following their clinical 87-62 demolition of NLEX Wednesday to raise their record to a perfect 4-0.

The 25-point demolition of the Road Warriors saw new import Daniel Orton debuting for the Htoshots with 16 points, 11rebounds, and three blocks in just 31 minutes of action while anchoring the team’s intimidating defense inside.

But coach Tim Cone said Purefoods can’t take it easy against a Rain or Shine side that’s known for playing a physical game.

“We have Rain or Shine in Dipolog. I think that’s gonna be a true test for Daniel (Orton). Playing Rain or Shine is always a true test for our guys,” said Cone ahead of the Hotshots’ 5 p.m. encounter with the Elasto Painters (2-2).

The multi-titled coach noted Rain or Shine’s beefy frontline of Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Raymond Almazan, and Jervy Cruz -- not to mention yet import Rick Jackson -- typify the fearless and rugged defense of the Elasto Painters

“That (Rain or Shine team) will be a real tough battle for us. They play big imports about as well as any team does because of their style and their fearlessness,” he added.

Despite losing to Meralco, 92-87, in a game that saw Rain or Shine blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead, coach Yeng Guiao said the Elasto Painters remain in good shape.

“We’re in good shape, as long as you’re not in the last four or you get automatically booted out,” said Guiao. 

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“I also feel we’re still getting better, still trying to peak and trying to get our game so we have to step up.”

Guiao and his coaching staff will also be making a decision shortly after the game if Jackson will stay on or the team will bring in back original import choice Wayne Chism.

Although Jackson averages 21.2 points, 16.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.0 blocks in his first four games, Guiao said his main concern is whether the former Syracuse standout can bring them deep into the playoffs or not.

Should Jackson fail to impress against Orton and the Hotshots, Chism is expected to get the call by Sunday morning and be ready to fly to Manila early next week.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava