3 p.m. — Bay Area vs Rain or Shine
5:45 p.m. — Blackwater vs Meralco
Rain or Shine and Bay Area parade new imports in a bid to make a last push for the playoffs of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
The Elasto Painters and the Dragons have already notified the league regarding their import changes, making Ryan Pearson and Myles Powell eligible to suit up in their 3 p.m. battle today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Pearson, a 6-foot-6 forward, is tipped to replace his former teammate in Steve Taylor Jr., hoping to lead the Elasto Painters back to the playoffs after bombing out in the eliminations in the past two conferences.
He arrived late Wednesday and the Painters had to rush the processing of his requirements with the Games and Amusement Board and the PBA just to make him eligible to suit up against the Dragons.
He was measured 6-foot-5 and a half, which will make him eligible to suit up next conference as well.
Like Rain or Shine, Bay Area is also set to retool its roster as it decided to recall Powell, the former Philadelphia 76ers playmaker who starred in its first four wins in this midseason conference.
Powell is set to replace Andrew Nicholson, who averaged league-leading 38.5 points per game in the Dragons’ last four matches.
In fact, in the Dragons recent lost to Meralco, 98-92, Nicholson dropped a season-high 50 points, making the decision to replace him with an equally high-scoring — but smaller — Powell a tough one for head coach Brian Goorjian.
Goorjian, however, has no choice but to sit out Nicholson as part of their agreement with the league that they will not deploy two imports at the same time.
After losing to the Bolts, the Dragons are hoping to get back on the winning track to forge a tie for second to third places with Converge, the hottest team in the tournament, which has racked up six straight victories.
Like Goorjian, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao admitted that changing imports midway into the tournament is not easy.
“We’re actually taking a big risk,” said Guiao, adding that they will enlist Pearson for the Governors’ Cup should he come up with a strong performance.
“We want to take a long-term look at the situation. If he’s good, we might consider fielding him for the next conference. It all depends on how he will perform.”
He said Powell and Nicholson are both good, so their game against the Dragons is going to be a tough battle for them.
“Both of them are 40-plus scorers so I think you’re just picking your poison with those two guys,” he said, referring to the two former National Basketball Association players.
“Either way, they’re going to be a problem for us. For sure, we’ll have our hands full.”
Meanwhile, Blackwater and Meralco slug it out in the main game at 5:45 p.m. as both teams will play with much sense of urgency to keep their hopes alive for the playoffs.
Both teams had found themselves in an uncomfortable position.
The Bolts are in unfamiliar territory and after five conferences of reaching at least the semifinals and two finals stints, they are now in danger of missing the playoffs.
Meralco will be pinning its hopes on K.J. McDaniels, a returning import who came in as replacement to Johnny O’Bryant and Jesse Govan.