SAN Miguel Beer faces it first real acid test in a well-rested Rain or Shine side on Wednesday when the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup resumes at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen have so far lived up to expectations as favorites not just in the all-Filipino Cup , but for the entire season after putting up two straight victories against certified contenders.
But the defending champions take on the perennial-contending Elasto Painters, who are coming off a nine-day break after also going unbeaten in their first two outings.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in a marquee matchup that stakes the solo lead in the 12-team standings.
The match will also be the first time time San Miguel's Ryan Arana is facing his former team after an off-season trade that saw him acquired by the Beermen from the Elasto Painters.
“It’s hard to accept that kind of tag (team-to-beat), dahil I know Alaska and Rain or Shine are also top teams this season,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said after his team blew out Meralco late with a 101-85 win last Wednesday.
The Painters have also been up to the task early in the season-opening conference, flashing their firepower and depth in the absence of injured star Paul Lee.
RoS has even put up two relatively one-sided wins despite trailing early in the game, the latest a 108-94 win over Mahindra where they found themselves behind in the second quarter.
“We can’t make it a habit,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “We have to have a good start and a good strong finish.”
Guiao also hopes his rookies Maverick Ahanmisi and Don Trollano – who finally shook off rookie jitters against the Enforcers – as well as Josan Nimes continue their solid plays against the fancied Beermen.
“We will know (their mental toughness) when we play the top teams in a close situation,” Guiao said.
Meralco faces Blackwater earlier at 4:15 p.m. with both teams also seeking to make it to the win column.