RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes Barangay Ginebra holds the psychological edge going to their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals series owing to its two victories over the Painters in the eliminations.
The Gin Kings beat Guiao’s boys, 98-94, in controversial fashion on October 7 when a late foul was called inadvertently called against Gabe Norwood, and repeated over the Elasto Painters, 97-90, after coming back from a double-digit deficit on November 25.
“We lost twice to Ginebra. I think that’s gonna be a challenge for us mentally. It will require mental toughness on our part. Though zero-zero ang series, may edge na sila (Gin Kings) sa amin,” Guiao told Spin.ph at the end of the team’s practice on Tuesday.
Guiao said Ginebra's edge will be crucial in a best-of-three series he calls a "sprint race," saying the quarterfinal playoff is so short that it is not the time to experiment or take risks.
“This series requires a different way to handle compared to a five-game or seven-game series. We really need to start strong. There’s no room for experiments and make some mistakes. Unahan na talaga ito,” added Guiao, whose team faces the Gin Kings in the 5:15 p.m. opening game.
With Ginebra blessed with a tall frontline composed of Billy Mamaril, Kerby Raymundo, Rico Maierhofer, Rudy Hatfield and rookie Chris Ellis that has made it the league's best rebounding team, Guiao said his other main concern is how to be competitive off the rebounds.
“We’re going up against the best rebounding team and we’re the worst rebounding team. That’s a serious concern. So if we could keep up with them, malaking bagay iyun,” he said.
Barangay Ginebra is the league’s top rebounding team with 52.29 boards per-game average this conference, compared to Rain or Shine’s 49-rebound norm.
However, Paul Lee's return has added both depth and scoring punch to a Rain or Shine lineup that already counts on players like Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, and Beau Belga and figures to be tough to stop for the Gin Kings.
“Paul Lee’s return gives us a psychological boost because he really adds another dimension to our game. He’s not just a scorer but a playmaker,” noted the Rain or Shine mentor. “Paul somehow releases the pressure off Jeff and Gabe. He’s really smart for his age considering that he was just a rookie last year.”
Gin Kings playmaker LA Tenorio, however, insists it is the Painters' depth and championship experience that he fears the most.
“They are back in their championship form. Iyan ang nakakatakot sa Rain or Shine. Di mo alam sino puputok,” Tenorio said.