RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes the repackaged San Miguel Beer team is far different from the one they defeated in the last Philippine Cup semifinals.
Guiao cited that the addition of playmaker Solomon Mercado as well as the arrival of Kevin Jones, along with the team’s renewed vigor after reverting to its old name are factors the Painters will have to deal with.
“It’s (San Miguel) a different team that we played in the (Philippine Cup) series,” noted Guiao noted, whose team faces the Beermen in the lone Wednesday match at 8 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Dati kasi sentro lang lahat kay June Mar (Fajardo), pero ngayon, they got better offensively.”
The 6-foot-1 Mercado’s stats may be down to career-lows this conference, but that’s understandable because he doesn’t have to do everything for an SMB team that has a bevy of scorers and excellent passers.
Guiao said he’s well aware that the Beermen are determined to slay the ghost of the Philippine Cup debacle by coming up with an emphatic victory over the Elasto Painters.
But the fiery Rain or Shine mentor said the Painters are confident they can clash head on with a souped-up San Miguel team, as long as the team can execute its defensive plan well.
“We have to come prepared to play defense because aside from Sol, June Mar and their import, they still have Arwind Santos, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, and lately, Paolo Hubalde,” he added.
On the other hand, San Miguel coach Biboy Ravanes said the five-day respite gave them the time to work on their defensive schemes as well as prepare his wards mentally.
“We (coaching staff) reminded them (Beermen) yesterday, I know exactly the month and the day, I said, ‘February 7 guys, they (Elasto Painters) beat us in (Philippine Cup semis) Game Five.’ I just hope maalala pa nila,” said Ravanes, whose team absorbed its first loss for the conference, 107-99, against Talk ’N Text after opening the Commissioner’s Cup with back-to-back wins.
Ravanes expects the Elasto Painters to come out with their trademark physicality, which is why they have also reminded their players to maintain their focus.
“Kailangan lang malaman nila how to handle that (physicality). They have to manage their emotions, na naka-focus pa rin sila sa game,” he added.