by Jonas Terrado
Game Saturday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. – San Miguel vs Rain or Shine
The absence of Marcio Lassiter may play a crucial factor as San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine start their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tipoff is set at 6:30 p.m. with the Beermen set to miss the services of Lassiter, who will be sidelined for the next six weeks after spraining his left MCL in their quarterfinal victory over the NorthPort Batang Pier.
While Lassiter’s injury could be the break Rain or Shine needs in order to score an upset win, coach Caloy Garcia doesn’t see it that way.
“Kahit naman wala si Lassiter, they have too many weapons (Even if Lassiter’s out, they have too many weapons),” said Garcia after steering the Painters to their third semis appearance in the last four conferences.
The Painters advanced to the semis with an 85-83 win over Blackwater in their do-or-die match on Thursday – thanks to Rey Nambatac.
Still, Garcia and the Elasto Painters have plenty of players to worry in import Chris McCullough, June Mar Fajardo, quarterfinal hero Arwind Santos, Terrence Romeo, Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot.
Nambatac, whose clutch heroics propelled Rain or Shine to a hard-fought quarterfinal series triumph over Blackwater, believes the Lassiter factor could give them a fighting chance to topple the fancied Beermen.
“Magandang situation din na wala si Marcio kasi deadly talaga siya at mahirap talaga siyang bantayan (Marcio’s absence is also a good situation for us because he’s a deadly shooter and difficut to guard.),” said Nambatac.
“Kaya para sa amin, kahit papaano mapapadali rin yung pagpapatakbo ng sistema namin at siyempre sa depensa na rin (For us, it could make it a bit easy for us to run our system and also our defensive strategies.),” added the sophomore guard.
Rookie Javee Mocon, veterans Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood, role players Mark Borboran, Kris Rosales and Jewel Ponferada and long-haired import Carl Montgomery are also expected to put on vital performances in the series.
Two-time MVP James Yap remains a doubtful starter for ROS along Ed Daquioag due to various injuries.