A well-rested Rain or Shine team and a Phoenix side coming off an epic win collide in what promises to be a very exciting match Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters are looking to at least keep their share of second-running spot, a position the Fuel Masters also covet.
With such stakes the combatants are out to give their all while trying to find solutions to their respective main concerns on the fly.
“Coming from a long break I hope that we don’t come out sluggish or rusty,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, whose team has not seen action since a 107-97 manhandling of NLEX last Dec. 23.
“Phoenix has been playing well the last two games and showing lots of improvements,” added Garcia. “We have to limit their shooters because they’ve been shooting the ball pretty well.”
The respect is returned by Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia. “Next to San Miguel Beer Rain or Shine is the deepest and tallest team in the league. They can have two starting lineups of equal strengths,” he said.
“We really have to battle as a team and limit our mistakes,” Vanguardia also said. “We can’t afford to give up easy putbacks and we must contain them in transition.”
Such ploys have already worked wonders for Phoenix in wins over Meralco and GlobalPort, the last a 99-101 decision last Dec. 28 when the Fuel Masters battled back from a 26-point deficit early in the fourth period.
With Rain or Shine boasting of the likes of Jericho Cruz, Raymond Almazan, James Yap, Beau Belga and Jeff Chan, Vanguardia knows his crew cannot afford to dig itself an early hole.
Phoenix has its own formidable lineup and Garcia and his staff have worked hard during the holidays to preserve their players’ sharp edge.
Containing the likes of JC Intal, Mark Borboran, Simon Enciso, Matthew Wright and Cyrus Baguio should be the E-Painters’ top priority.