RAIN or Shine’s confidence remains high despite its heartbreaking overtime loss to Alaska in their recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup encounter.
And that same line of thinking is what the Elasto Painters are bringing with them into their Friday game against the embattled Barako Bull Energy Cola at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Coach Yeng Guiao said the loss to the Aces had no lasting effects on his team despite putting to waste a 23-point second-half lead and eventually losing the game in the extra period, 84-89.
That Rain or Shine is still in contention for the remaining twice-to-beat incentive in the playoffs, is what’s keeping the adrenalin high for the franchise, he added.
“Having led by more than 20 points and still lose could affect the morale of the team. But the way I see it in practice, wala naman akong nakita na parang na-dampen ang mga spirits nila,” Guiao said.
The outspoken coach said the Elasto Painters (8-4) are now looking forward to getting back on track against an Energy Cola (4-8) side that is fighting for playoff contention.
An interesting sidelight to the 7:30 p.m. game is how Rain or Shine import Bruno Sundov will fare against new Barako Bull reinforcement DJ Mbenga.
The former back-up center of the Los Angeles Lakers had a rather lackluster debut in a 77-88 Barako Bull loss to Petron on Sunday when Mbenga finished with just 14 points and 12 rebounds.
But given five extra days to adjust to Barako Bull consultant Rajko Toroman’s system, Guiao believes Mbenga will come out a much better player.
“Although Mbenga played below expectations, he promised to play better. So given the time now to acclimatize and getting used to play with his teammates, I’m sure he’ll play better,” noted Guiao.
But Guiao is just as confident with Sundov.
“Our import is getting better despite our loss to Alaska. Ngayon kasi, he’s (Sundov) able to keep in step sa ibang mga imports. Mas nakapag-adjust na siya sa amin,” added the Rain or Shine coach.
Toroman, on the other hand, said the Energy Cola will definitely go all-out against the Elasto Painters, who beat them in their first meeting, 103-93.
“We will expect more from DJ,” said Toroman. “We need his inside presence also.”
At the same time, Toroman is hopeful Josh Urbiztondo will finally overcome his conference-long struggle and take the lead among the locals, especially now that veteran playmaker Jonas Villanueva will be out for the team’s last two games.
“I’ve talked to Josh and will also try to use Celino and Eman (Monfort). This is a very crucial game for us against Rain or Shine,” he added.