Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
3 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Blackwater
5:15 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs NLEX
After a tough loss that denied Rain or Shine an outright berth in the semifinals, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao thinks playing in the quarterfinals isn’t bad after all as this might better prepare them in trying to move forward in the playoffs.
That is exactly the mentality of ROS as it clashes with Blackwater in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal playoffs today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
“Our attitude is that even if we didn’t make it to the semifinals outright, baka nga hindi pa kami talaga ready,” said Guiao yesterday.
“The extra games and the adversity might toughen us up as a team if we ever make it to the semifinals. Kailangan pa namin siguro magpalakas physically and mentally to be able to compete against the top teams.”
“All of those things we consider a blessing in disguise. As I’ve said, this might toughen us up as we try to move forward in the playoffs,” added Guiao, whose team edged Blackwater in the eliminations, 103-81, last Nov. 21.
The game between Rain or Shine and Blackwater is scheduled at 3 p.m., while NLEX takes on twice-to-beat Talk ’N Text at 5:15 p.m. A win by ROS and TNT will move the two to a knockout game on Monday.
Rain or Shine was a win away from forcing a three-way tie on top at 9-2 with defending champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska, which would have given Guiao’s team the No. 1 spot and the first automatic semifinal seat because of a superior quotient.
However, a stunning 106-111 setback to NLEX last Saturday denied the Painters that outright stint in the Final Four.
Rain or Shine was instead relegated to No. 3, which carries a twice-to-beat advantage against No. 10 Blackwater, a 108-99 winner over Mahindra in the battle for the last playoff berth.
In that game, veteran guard Mike Cortez exploded for a career-best 30 points with 10 rebounds, while Reil Cervantes scored 24 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
Aside from Cortez and Cervantes, Blackwater mentor Leo Isaac will also rely on scoring guard Carlo Lastimosa, who is averaging a team high 15.36 points during the eliminations, centers JP Erram and Jason Ballesteros, Bam-Bam Gamalinda and rookie Art dela Cruz as the team makes its first ever quarterfinal appearance.
“We’ve prepared very hard for the Blackwater game, we learned our lessons from the NLEX game. We don’t want to take anything for granted. They’re playing well the last several games,” said Guiao.
On the other hand, the ROS mentor aid that there is no chance for Paul Lee to play even though the team’s top point guard has shown progress in his rehab session the last week.
“My personal evaluation is that I can see that he’s trying very hard and working extra hours to get himself in shape. But the best favor we can make for him is make the semis, dun pa lang sya handa,” said Guiao.
“Hindi ko pa muna sya sinasama sa mga plano ko, I don’t expect him to play,” added Guiao.
Meantime, NLEX hopes to carry the intensity brought by its win against ROS last week, where Sean Anthony fired a career-best 37 points, as the Road Warriors try to win twice against the Tropang Texters.
NLEX won against TNT in the teams’ first and only elimination round meeting, as Anthony collected 32 points and 12 rebounds, while veteran center Asi Taulava had 18 points and 18 boards in a 107-101 victory.