WITH no less than a semifinal berth at stake, Rain or Shine is up against a team that's known for its never-say-die outlook and draws strength from its legion of fans as the PBA’s most popular ball club.
But not even that could strike fear in coach Yeng Guiao, who remains confident his battle-scarred team is capable of winning over the Kings in their Commissioner’s Cup do-or-die quarterfinal encounter on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The second-seeded Elasto Painters squandered a 15-point third-quarter lead before eventually bowing to the Kings, 83-90, on Saturday night, setting the stage for the winner-take-all game at 6:45 p.m.
“It's always a test of character. The reason why you strive to get a twice-to-beat advantage is so you can give yourself the luxury of making mistakes,” said a still confident Guiao.
After looking at the stats sheet that reflect the 16 turnovers committed by the Elasto Painters in the second half, Guiao explained the Monday game gives his team an opportunity to correct its mistakes.
“The good thing about our series or our quarterfinals is we'll have a chance to make corrections so I still think we will make the semifinals. We have enough experience with the guys who have been together long enough to know what to do in a situation like Monday,” he added.
The Rain or Shine defense is expected to focus on Ginebra’s newly acquired point guard Josh Urbiztondo, who played a key role in the team’s successful fightback from 15-points down.
The 6-foot Urbiztondo, who joined the Kings only on Wednesday in a trade with Barako Bull, scored four points, grabbed five rebounds, and added three of his five assists during the team’s pivotal fourth-quarter run.
The soft-spoken Urbiztondo, who is in his fourth PBA team now, explained he has no plans of filling the huge void vacated by injured star Mark Caguioa.
“It’s really hard to fill his (Caguioa) shoes on scoring, but coach (Alfrancis Chua) just wants me to play defense, create (plays) for other guys,” said Urbiztondo.
“We just have to be aggressive and come out like our backs are against the wall, like it’s a lose-or-go home mindset for the next 48 minutes. We need to buckle down and do whatever it takes to win,” he added.