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    Tue, Nov 29
    Leo Austria
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    THE struggles of traditional PBA contenders have enhanced the chances of mid-table teams to make it past the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.

    Two of those teams that are looking to take advantage are Rain or Shine and Phoenix Super LPG, incidentally two squads who will be facing off on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

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    The Elasto Painters and Fuel Masters are part of a four-team logjam with NLEX and NorthPort for sixth place with an even 3-3 win-loss records following huge victories last week.

    Rain or Shine overcame Meralco, a team that reached the finals of the Governors’ Cup over the past few seasons, with a 113-96 win last Saturday. The Elasto Painters also have a win over Barangay Ginebra in its name.

    Phoenix, on the other hand, is on a roll, winning three straight games against Meralco, Barangay Ginebra, and previously unbeaten NLEX this conference.

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      At the moment, both Rain or Shine and Phoenix are ahead of San Miguel, which is at 10th place with a 2-3 win-loss record, and Meralco, a team that has made the Philippine Cup playoffs the past three seasons but now holds a 1-5 card.

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      “Tinitignan ko ‘yung standings, nag-iistruggle ‘yung mga malalakas na teams, ‘yung mga dating sinasabi natin na middle-of-the pack teams, maganda ang nilalaro ngayon,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

      Guiao though said the road will still be difficult for the middle-rung teams, as he also expects the San Miguels and the Meralcos to bounce back down the stretch.

      “Ang tingin kong magic number diyan is seven wins para makasigurado ka sa next round. 3-3 kami ngayon, we have six more games, we need to win four of the next six games to be assured of a quarterfinal slot,” Guiao added.

      “Kung titignan mo, mahirap pa rin gawin ‘yun pero ang laking bagay na tinalo namin ang Meralco. Medyo nagiging realistic ‘yung objective namin. Nag-iistruggle ‘yung mga malalakas na team. Babalik at babalik ‘yan kaya bago sila makabalik, kailangan may puhunan ka na,” said Guiao.

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      It is for these reasons that he sees Rain or Shine’s match-up against Phoenix as an important one with the winner set to close in on the third spot that is occupied jointly by TNT, Converge, and Barangay Ginebra at 3-2.

      “Eto nga ‘yung sinasabi ko na middle-of-the-pack teams, maganda nilalaro ngayon. Kailangan makasabay kami. We know na maganda ang shooting nila (Phoenix) ngayon nila Tyler Tio at RJ Jazul. Malaki ang problema namin sa Wednesday at kailangan namin maghanap ng paraan para pigilan sila sa ganda ng nilalaro nila,” said Guiao.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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