(Ynares Center Antipolo)
3 p.m. — Phoenix vs Rain or Shine
5:45 p.m. — San Miguel vs NorthPort
Phoenix Super LPG – the hottest team in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup – and unpredictable Rain or Shine part ways as they try to boost their respective campaigns when the league returns to Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Wednesday.
The Fuel Masters and the Elasto Painters clash at 3 p.m. before the 5:45 p.m. main game between San Miguel Beer and NorthPort.
After blowing hot and cold in their first six matches, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao said their battle against the Fuel Masters will determine how far they can go in the import-flavored conference.
“This will determine our future in the conference. If we win, we’ll move up to No. 4,” Guiao told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.
“This team has not reached the playoffs in the last two conferences, but we have a chance to move up and it will bolster our chances if we win against Phoenix.”
Guiao braces for an exciting battle with the Fuel Masters, who have been drawing big games from their young stars this conference.
“We have similar paths,” said Guiao, comparing his Elasto Painters to the Fuel Masters.
“We’ve been getting good games from our young players. Phoenix is also getting superb games from their young players like Tyler Tio, Encho Serrano and Javee Mocon as well so this is going to be an interesting battle.”
Tio, a second-round draft pick by the Fuel Masters this year, has led all newcomers in scoring and assists this early part of the conference.
He’s been averaging 16.2 points on a steady 90 percent shooting from the free throw area while hitting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and dishing out 4.7 assists.
But Gian Mamuyac of Rain or Shine is not far behind as one of the league’s best two-way players with 11 points per game average.
Mamuyac, in fact, had 21 points, three rebounds and three assists in the Elasto Painters’ 113-96 triumph over Meralco last Saturday.
Meanwhile, NorthPort parades a new player in Will Navarro, who was released by Gilas Pilipinas to the Batang Pier.
The Batang Pier selected Navarro in the special draft for Gilas last year, and on Monday, he agreed to sign with NorthPort team until the end of the season.
The Batang Pier welcome Navarro, they face a tough task in taking on a San Miguel team that is coming off a 124-116 victory over NLEX on Sunday in a game where Marcio Lassiter went off to a blazing start.
Lassiter hit 6-of-7 shots in the first half, the most by any player since Ren-Ren Ritualo hit eight in a half while playing for FedEx in 2005.
How San Miguel can sustain its explosive performance last time around remains to be seen against NorthPort, which is led by Robert Bolick, who averages a league-leading 23.2 points per game.
Bolick has been setting the tone for the Batang Pier as he averages six assists per game — the second best among local players.