Solo leader Rain or Shine eyes the No. 1 quarterfinal slot and an outright twice-to-beat bonus when it battles Meralco while Barangay Ginebra San Miguel aims to stretch its winning run to four, today, in Season 43 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters (8-1 win-loss record) face the Bolts at 4:30 p.m. while the retooled Gin Kings takes on Alaska in the 7 p.m. second game.
“It will boil down to execution and who wants it more. Meralco is also a veteran team. And coming from a loss, they are expected to play better and be ready for tomorrow so we have to execute better. We have to attack Meralco’s weaknesses,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.
“I also told the players that it is going to be a defensive game tomorrow. We have two practice sessions and I hope they will translate well tomorrow.”
The Elasto Painters won 108-106 over Phoenix last week behind the impressive 32 points, 16 rebounds and five assists performance of import Reggie Johnson.
“I think he (Johnson) is really self motivated in this tournament that he wants to show everyone how good he is, and I think it is a good match up with him and (Arinze) Onuaku,” Garcia added. “It is going to be a battle of heavyweights, so I think he’s been working hard that’s why the locals are playing well because of him.”
Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu and James Yap will support Johnson as he leads the Elasto Painters today.
The Bolts (7-3 win-loss record), under coach Norman Black, are in a must-win situation to secure one of the two twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals.
“It’s a game we have to win if we want to get into the top two,” said Black. “I think we recognized that already. They’ve been resting, we just played tonight so we just have to find out what happens on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, coach Tim Cone and the Gin Kings are expecting a tough match against the Aces.
“Tough game, tough opponent, but so crucial for both teams,” said Cone through a text message. “Alaska has had a brilliant conference. If we had the choice, we could think of a few other teams we’d rather be playing so that we can make the top six. But we don’t, so Alaska it is. It is going to be a terrific battle.”
Ginebra (4-5) has won three consecutive games.
“We’re not playing yet the top teams and one of these teams is Alaska. They’re playing great basketball and Vic Manuel looks like superman out there, so we have to figure it out,” added Cone.
The No. 2 Aces (7-2) are keen to recover from a 74-89 loss to the Bolts last week.
“It is all important (remaining two games). At this point, one of the benefits you have on our winning streak is you don’t have to think of your life getting into the playoffs. Everything is more of positioning now, it is how we play and what we are doing, and how sharp we can be,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
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