(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Mahindra vs Meralco
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Rain or Shine
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao and his former team Rain or Shine have one common goal when they square off today in the opener of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao’s Road Warriors and the Elasto Painters want to start the midseason conference on a winning note in the 7 p.m. duel that may boost their respective bids to rebound from disappointing performances in the Philippine Cup.
The fiery mentor and the defending Commissioner’s Cup champions had difficult times after their six-year partnership came to an end before the start of the season when Guiao decided to accept the NLEX role.
But Guiao endured hardships in his first conference as NLEX went 2-9, the worst record in the conference, as the team had a difficult time adjusting to his system which emphasizes on tough defending and perimeter shooting.
Rain or Shine, on the other hand, appeared to remain as strong as when Guiao was still around, going 5-2 halfway into the eliminations.
That turned out to be an illusion as the Elasto Painters lost their final four games of the elims, and needed to beat the Blackwater Elite in a playoff to secure the eighth and last playoff berth. They were eventually eliminated by the San Miguel Beermen in the quarters.
This time, the two sides are eager for a resurgence.
Guiao has brought in Wayne Chism, his import with Rain or Shine during its runnerup finish in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup and in the same conference last year when his campaign was cut short by an injury.
Playing for Rain or Shine is Sean Taggart, who had a short stint with Globalport last season with a scoring average of nearly 35 points per game.
Also out to redeem themselves are their respective locals. NLEX will have Kevin Alas, Carlo Lastimosa and Sean Anthony while Rain or Shine has James Yap, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, Jeff Chan and Beau Belga.
Kicking off hostilities is the 4:15 p.m. opener between the Meralco Bolts and the Mahindra Floodbuster.
The Bolts are banking on former NBA player Alex Stephenson to rebound from last conference’s dismal showing while the Floodbuster have reunited with James White, the lanky import who led them to a breakthrough playoff appearance in last season’s Governors’ Cup.