AFTER squeaking past its rivals in the last two games, Rain or Shine hopes to play more smoothly when it battles skidding Globalport in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Painters coach Yeng Guiao considers their last two victories as “lucky wins” since they were able to do it for the most part of the second half without their 7-foot-3 import Bruno Sundov, who fouled out in the last two games.
Now Guiao hopes his Croatian import could stay away from foul trouble when the Elasto Painters (4-1) go up against the Batang Pier (2-4) at their 5:15 p.m. encounter.
“We had two lucky escapes against Air21 and Barangay Ginebra. And again, for the most part, our import was not able to play a lot of the minutes that we needed him to be playing,” said Guiao.
“So it’s just a tribute and a credit for the locals for stepping up and working hard to make up for the absence of our import. It’s team effort and helping each other. We’re finding ways to win with our import in foul trouble,” he added.
Sundov, who played in the NBA for seven years, had an average of only 25.5 minutes for a measly 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the team’s wins versus Air21 and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The 33-year-old Croatia native is expected to have his hands full going up against Globalport’s import Justin Williams, who may not be the most offensively-gifted reinforcement but has certainly been a force to reckon with on the defensive end.
The Batang Pier have lost three straight but while there had been reports Globalport is set to replace him, the product of Wyoming managed to keep his focus and has submitted an average of 19.33 rebounds and 4.6 blocks – both conference-best stats among imports and locals. His scoring, though, is the lowest among imports at just 14.6 points, including five and 11 points, respectively in Globalport’s losses to Meralco and San Mig Coffee.
Japeth Aguilar said the locals obviously need to help the 6’9” Williams by executing well on offense since they are loaded with scorers led by Gary David (23.6 points per game), Solomon Mercado (14.5 ppg.), while two-time PBA MVP Willie Miller (6.3 ppg.) is also expected to deliver.
“Kailangan lang talaga naming mag-execute ng maayos, kasi di naman puwedeng laging sa import magsisimula ang offense. We need to learn to play well down the stretch at alagaan ang bola,” explained the 6’9” Aguilar, who is averaging 14 points, 8.17 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.5 blocks in 34.8 minutes this conference.
The 26-year-old Aguilar knows they will have their hands full against Sundov and Rain or Shine’s heavyweight frontline led by Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Jervy Cruz and even role players like Larry Rodriguez and Ronnie Matias.
“Rain or Shine is a very physical team. For sure, that is one of the teams to beat because of their chemistry. So kailangan lang naming maging ready sa physicality,” added the former Ateneo Blue Eagle big man.