SAN Miguel Beer may be in a rut at the moment, but that doesn’t mean less worry for Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao when his Elasto Painters tangle with the Beermen in Friday’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao said the All-Star break has given the back-to-the-wall Beermen enough time to get their act together, especially big man June Mar Fajardo who is recovering from a severe sprained left ankle he suffered more than a week ago.
“San Miguel is a stronger team than what its win-loss record shows,” noted Guiao. “Winning the All-Filipino puts San Miguel in a state of complacency, but they are bound to snap out of it anytime as they know the urgency of the situation.”
Unlike San Miguel, Rain or Shine is in a perfect position to go for a top two finish at the end of the eliminations as it currently occupies second spot at 5-2 in a tie with Meralco.
A win in the 7 p.m. encounter will allow the Elasto Painters to tie idle Talk ‘N Text (6-2) on top and earn an outright playoff spot.
The top two teams at the end of the single-round eliminations earn a twice-to-beat incentive heading to the quarterfinals.
Rain or Shine import Wayne Chism will get his first serious test this conference since replacing Rick Jackson three weeks ago as he goes up against former Elasto Painters reinforcement Arizona Reid.
In his second tour of duty in the league, the 6-foot-8 Chism is averaging 28 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in his first two games with Rain or Shine.
The former Tennessee standout also shot 52.9 percent from the three-point zone, making him a deadly inside and outside threat for San Miguel.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria recognizes that one misstep in the team’s last three games could mean outright elimination for the Philippine Cup champions.
“Crucial na laban talaga ito kasi nakataya yung laban nila for twice-to-beat, samantalang outright elimination naman ang hinaharap namin,” said Austria, whose team currently occupies 11th spot with its 2-6 record.
“Masyado kaming naiwan pero upbeat pa rin ang team. Naka-recover at recharged na ang team going into this game. Ang feeling nga namin, kung ngayon pa lang magsisimula ang conference, hindi mangyayari ang mga bagay na nangyari sa amin,” Austria said.
Fajardo, who skipped the annual All-Star festivities in Palawan last week, is expected to play heavy minutes since spending much of his time resting his injured left ankle.
The Beermen headed into the All-Star break with a 102-91 win over Barako Bull Energy.