WHILE San Mig Coffee has given Gilas Pilipinas forward Marc Pingris a week off, reigning champion Rain or Shine is keeping national team members Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan on standby for the opening night of the PBA Governor’s Cup on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
The Philippine team is coming off a second place finish in the Fiba Asia Championship that earned the country a spot in the world meet next year and the players’ mother clubs have given the nationals several gamedays off.
But though Guiao saw Chan and Norwood looking a bit weary during Tuesday’s practice, he is putting them on deck for the 7:30 p.m. game.
“Ang plano ko is to rest them (Chan and Norwood) as much as we can because nung nag-walk through kami kanina sa practice, nakita ko na parang pagod pa sila,” Guiao told Spin.ph after practice.
The outspoken Painters coach had voiced his dismay two weeks ago when he learned about the tough opening-day schedule, saying that it leaves him no choice but to field his main men despite getting little time to recuperate and reacquaint themselves with the Painters system.
But Guiao on Tuesday said if the E-Painters can keep up with the Mixers, he won’t play Chan and Norwood but he’ll expect a lot more from returning import Arizona Reid, sophomore guard Paul Lee and defensive ace Jireh Ibanes.
The Rain or Shine coach also said that Beau Belga, a Gilas team reserve, will be playing for the E-Painters.
Meanwhile, Cone acknowledges the lingering effect of the huge Gilas Pilipinas feat, but hopes his team can refocus and that the national team’s spirited plays can inspire the Marqus Blakely-led Mixers against the E-Painters.
“In the aftermath of the Gilas glow, it’s hard to put that away and get focused on our own stuff. That was too exciting! But we’ll find a way,” said Cone.
“Hopefully, we’ll live up to their wonderful play. As for Rain or Shine, we couldn’t have picked a tougher assignment.”
The multi-titled PBA mentor said the team decided to give energetic power forward Pingris a week off to recover from his “warrior-like” approach in the Fiba-Asia tilt, where he battled it out with Asia’s big men.
“We will play without Ping who we will allow to heal and refresh from his warrior-like Gilas stint. We will certainly miss him. But with Marqus in tow and a healthy James (Yap), we feel we can hold the fort until his return in about a week,” added Cone.