Rain or Shine, Phoenix tussle for playoff positions in crucial Commissioner's Cup duel
Phoenix and Rain or Shine face off in a crucial Commissioner's Cup battle to improve thier playoff standing. Jerome Ascano

RAIN or Shine looks to aim high while Phoenix hopes to crack the middle, as both teams face off on Friday when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup postseason race heats up at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters are coming off a 114-103 loss to Tropang TNT last week that left them stuck in the middle of the pack with an even 4-4 win-loss record.

But ROS assistant coach Caloy Garcia believes they still have a chance at a higher seeding, or even a shot at the No. 1 spot that's currently occupied by Meralco at 6-2.

“There’s no clear (team) on who’s going to be number one at the end of the eliminations and who’s going to be last because I think everybody still has a chance to be number one,” said Garcia, who took over suspended coach Yeng Guiao against the Texters. “Everybody’s clogged up in the middle.”

Guiao returns against the Fuel Masters, who look to ride the momentum of a character-building 124-120 overtime win over Blackwater just last Wednesday.

But Phoenix coach Koy Banal has his sights on making the playoffs as his team, sporting a 3-5 slate, is facing an uphill climb to get there, starting with an Elasto Painters side that’s eager to bounce back from a tough loss.

“We know what they can do to a team that is not ready mentally and physically,” Banal said ahead of the 4:15 p.m. encounter.

“If we have to go through the eye of the needle, we’ll go through it and nobody will be left behind,” he added. “We will bring everybody with us.”

Banal banks on import Kevinn Pinkey as well as local support  from JC Intal, Willie Wilson, and RR Garcia, while the E-Painters rely on Jericho Cruz and JR Quiñahan with the rest of their veterans still groping for form.

ROS reinforcement Mo Charlo must also step up after underachieving in his last few outings following an impressive debut.

“Kailangan ma-realize niya rin na pag kailangan umiskor, iiskor talaga siya,” ROS star guard Paul Lee said. “Kasi import namin siya eh, siya ang hahanapin namin talaga.”

In the second game, NLEX, sharing the same record as the E-Painters, brace for a GlobalPort side that’s looking to get out of the cellar after winning just two of their first eight games. The Road Warriors and the Batang Pier square off at 7 p.m. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos