THERE wasn't any doubt on Leo Austria's mind that Rain or Shine would be marching to the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
No disrespect to Blackwater, but Austria just thought the Elasto Painters were the more complete team.
"From the start naman I considered Rain or Shine a top contender. Minalas lang sila nung bandang huli (ng elims) kaya nag-knockout game pa sila," said Austria after Rain or Shine turned back Blackwater, 103-80, to take the eighth and final quarterfinal berth in the season-opening meet.
"Pero pagdating sa tao malalim na team 'yan, at tsaka may experience."
Austria scouted the do-or-die game from the upper section of the Smart Araneta Coliseum accompanied by assistant Peter Martin and watched how Rain or Shine imposed its will on a young Blackwater team despite a slow start.
"Nakita mo naman kung paano sila naka-recover agad, di ba?" he said of how the Elasto Painters quickly turned things around after trailing 13-2 in the first quarter.
Austria recalled how the Beermen were on the verge of losing against the Elasto Painters during their elimination round encounter before they managed to send the game into overtime and hack out a 107-101 win.
The two-time reigning champions trailed by six in the final two minutes until the Elasto Painters failed to score at the end of regulation.
"If you remember, muntik na talaga kami noon," said the two-time Coach of the Year.
Austria said he expects the same fight from the Elasto Painters in the quarterfinals.
"Hindi biro ito," said the San Miguel mentor.
As the top seeded team, the Beermen enjoy twice-to-beat edge over the no. 8 Elasto Painters. They collide in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.