RAIN or Shine and San Miguel begin their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Game One is scheduled at 6:30 p.m.
The Elastopainters and the Beermen clinched semifinal berths in close fashion. Rain or Shine edged Blackwater, 85-83, thanks to the heroics of Rey Nambatac, while San Miguel downed NorthPort, 90-88, in its do-or-die affair with the clutch baskets of Arwind Santos and Chris McCollough.
Despite being the higher-seed, Rain or Shine, which clinched sixth in the quarters, sees itself as the underdog for the series against seventh seed San Miguel.
“San Miguel's always going to be a champion team,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia. “It's going to be a difficult task. We just have to watch what we did right against them when we played out of town, but we know at this stage right now they have a huge advantage over us.”
“I don't think it is an upset win,” said Garcia, referring to San Miguel’s “upset” win over second seed NorthPort in the quarterfinals. “That's San Miguel. There's no upset for San Miguel. You play San Miguel and if they beat you, that's San Miguel. If you beat them, ‘yun ang upset.”
Not even the absence of Marcio Lassiter due to an MCL injury will prevent San Miguel from being a formidable team in the series. Lassiter is set to miss six weeks due to the injury.
“Kahit naman wala si Lassiter, they have too many weapons in that team. ‘Yung mga hindi pa nagagamit doon, sina Tubid, Pessumal, they have been stepping up this conference, and we know that going into the semis. Iba na ‘yung laro nila Ross, Cabagnot. They're going to lose a great shooter, but they have players who can fill up that spot,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s players agree.
“Motivation namin, we are the underdog,” said Nambatac. “Parang David and Goliath pero hindi porket kami ‘yung underdog, basta kami bibigay. Bilog ang bola, maraming posibleng mangyari pag tulong-tulong lang kami.”
“Slim chance lang para sa amin, hindi lang naman si Marcio ang inaasahan sa San Miguel. Veteran na sila compared sa team namin eh. Maganda rin ‘yun na wala si Marcio kasi deadly talaga siya eh, mahirap talaga bantayan. Mapapadali rin kahit papaano ‘yung pagtakbo ng depensa namin,” Nambatac said.