DESPITE inflicting Alaska its worst loss in franchise history just weeks ago, Yeng Guiao isn’t expecting Rain or Shine to run over the Aces when the two teams begin their PBA Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal series on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The fiery coach said it is imperative the Elasto Painters make defensive stops in order to get transition points, something they have done so well during a six-game winning streak, including a 111-90 blowout of Air21 Express in their quarterfinal match-up on Wednesday night.
“We’re getting opportunities on turnovers leading to transition plays. And that helps us a lot and gets us on our rhythm, though the real secret here is playing hard defense,” Guiao said.
The Elasto Painters’ confidence is obviously a sky-high, especially since they have the Aces’ number during the eliminations behind a record 123-72 whipping.
The 51-point victory was the biggest winning margin ever in Rain or Shine’s franchise history, while the losing margin was the worst ever for the proud Alaska team.
Guiao said bringing back old hand Arizona Reid as Rain or Shine import proved to be a good decision, considering the former High Point standout has been a major asset for the team with his league career-high 34.5 points in the Elasto Painters’ last six games while shooting an efficient 55.2 percent from the field.
“AZ is consistent on both ends. He’s one of the shortest imports, but you can rely on him on defense, scoring, and rebounding,” noted the Rain or Shine mentor.
“It’s really a good choice for us in bringing him back and I think he’s better this year because he’s more matured and more consistent with his outside shots,” he added.
Meantime, Alaska has been a transformed team ever since that embarrassing beating at the hands of Rain or Shine.
Rookie coach Alex Compton acknowledges the difference as the Aces are currently on a four-game winning streak since the Rain or Shine setback.
“That (51-point) loss woke up the competitive spirit, and a lot of our guys, their identity, I believe they have been champions in college, and believe that loss made them (Aces) come alive,” said Compton, whose team ousted Barangay Ginebra, 92-81, in their quarterfinal duel also on Wednesday.
“We thank them (Elasto Painters) for giving us the worst beating and awaken us. I hope we can be a lot more competitive,” he added.
Since the loss to Rain or Shine, Alaska has turned into a mean defensive machine, holding its opponents to just 79.5 points. That was in huge contrast to the Aces’ 98.2 points per game allowed during their first four outings under the Alaska rookie mentor.