Toughness is one thing assistant coach Chito Victolero wants from his Mahindra Enforcers while grizzled tactician Yeng Guiao has already seen that from his Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Which of the two teams will have an abundance of such character would be known Sunday when they collide in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters got off to a fine start to the season when they bucked a slow first half to ultimately upend Star, 96-87, on opening day last Sunday.
Victolero simply wants to simulate what Rain or Shine did, preferably minus the listless start.
“We all know Rain or Shine malakas talaga iyan. Mas maganda kung we could at least match iyung kanilang intensity and toughness para makasabay man lang kami and give ourselves the chance to steal it in the end,” said Victolero.
For his part, Guiao knows the team formerly known as Kia should not be trifled with, more so now that it now features a slew of veteran players who could stabilize the erstwhile youth-laden squad.
“We should not take them for granted dahil kahit na iyung dati pa silang Kia nakaka-silat na sila,” said Guiao.
“Ngayong mayroon na silang na dagdag na mga beterano we should always be on our toes,” added the six-time champion coach.
Guiao was referring to Nino Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, Eddie Laure and Paolo Hubalde, who are all acquired by Mahindra in the pre-season along with sophomores Kyle Pascual and Philip Paredes.
With the likes of the wily LA Revilla and Mark Yee and the growing maturity by Karl Dehesa, Hyram Bagatsing and Joshua Webb, the Enforcers should turn out to be a vastly different team from the one which won only 10 of its 33 games in its league debut last season.
Rain or Shine remains the favorite, though, and mainly because it won its opening assignment even minus injured point guard Paul Lee.
With Beau Belga and sophomore Jericho Cruz linking up with JR Quinahan, the E-Painters managed to come up with a big fourth quarter surge that carried them past the Hotshots.
New acquisition Jewel Ponferrada and the comebacking Ronnie Matias did their part, along with Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, Jeric Teng and Jireh Ibanes, giving Rain or Shine a balanced effort on both ends of the floor.
Now, Guiao is expecting rookies Maverick Ahanmisi and Don Trollano to deliver what is expected of them, something they weren’t able to do in their pro debut.
Against Star, No. 3 overall pick Maverick Ahanmisi scored on only three free throws while Trollano went scoreless despite five tries from the field.
“I was expecting a lot more from our rookies, si Don at si Maverick,” related Guiao after the Star game. “Ang taas kasi ng expectations ko sa kanila. I thought in this first game they could have had significant contributions.”
Rain or Shine is now also set to unveil, although in a limited capacity, No. 12 overall pick Josan Nimes, who has finished his commitments with Mapua.