EVEN with a two-game sweep of Rain or Shine in the eliminations under their belt, Barangay Ginebra players and even coach Siot Tanquingcen are convinced the best-of-three quarterfinals against the Painters beginning on Wednesday will be a whole new ballgame.
The Gin Kings scored two exciting victories against the Elasto Painters during the elimination round - a 98-94 win on October 7 in a game marred by a controversial call that led to a referee's suspension, and a 97-90 decision that saw Ginebra battle back from a huge deficit.
But veteran point guard Jayjay Helterbrand was quick to dismiss the advantage, saying Rain or Shine is a highly-physical team that gets even more dangerous during the playoffs.
“What makes them such a strong team is they just don’t focus on one player. They have a lot of good players, especially now that Paul Lee is in the lineup. And anything is possible especially come playoff time. I think we just need to forget about what happened in the regular season (elimination round),” Helterbrand told Spin.ph.
On the other hand, LA Tenorio, who is playing his first conference with the Gin Kings, said the 2-0 edge over Rain or Shine can be a blessing or a curse for them.
“We just have to prepare for Rain or Shine. Mabigat na kalaban yung team eh,” said Tenorio, who is averaging 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in his debut conference for the Gin Kings.
“Yung 2-0, pwedeng negative and pwedeng positive eh. Puwede kasing maging overconfident kami with that advantage. So importante sa best-of-three, from the start, we’ll be physical and go hard, we just have to be focused for 48 minutes,” he added.
Tanquingcen believes Rain or Shine has so many weapons, thus the need to rethink the way they have to play against the reigning Governors Cup champions.
“This series is going to be tough … Saka wala na iyun (2-0 edge) pagdating sa playoffs,” said the soft-spoken Gin Kings mentor.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao has said his team needs to control the boards, particularly against a tall team like the Gin Kings.
However, he would like to believe that Lee’s return gives Rain or Shine another legitimate scoring threat outside Jeff Chan and Chris Tiu and big men Jervy Cruz, Beau Belga and JR Quinahan.
“He’s (Lee) gonna be adding a new dimension to the team going to the quarterfinals,” said Guiao.
Lee, meantime, said he’s glad to be back in action after making a full recovery from a dislocated left shoulder suffered during the Governors Cup Finals last season.
“Matagal na din ako nagsu-shooting. Yung mga coaching staff, tinutulungan nila ako ma-recover sa shooting ko. Okay na ang braso ko, wala nang masakit. Ready lang,” said Lee.