6:30 p.m. — NLEX vs Rain or Shine
The bus to the quarterfinals had to be delayed until Sunday night as Rain or Shine and NLEX collide for the final semifinal seat in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at Philsports Arena.
Tip off is at 6:30 p.m. with both squads gunning for the eight quarterfinal spot that will earn them the right to face powerhouse Bay Area.
The sudden-death duel presents an interesting backdrop.
Head coach Yeng Guiao, who now calls the shots for the Elasto Painters, will be facing a team he handled for six years, the Road Warriors, who are also the only team left standing among the stable of industrialist Manny Pangilinan.
Perennial playoff performers TNT Tropang Giga and Meralco had been surprisingly eliminated early in the tournament, leaving the Road Warriors the only one holding the fort for the MVP Group of Companies.
But for the Road Warriors to make it to the next round, they have to do it at the expense of their former coach, who led them to a handful of memorable playoff finishes.
In fact, the Road Warriors dealt Guiao and the Elasto Painters a 96-90 loss in which they buried an oozing 15-of-33 three-pointers during their previous game on 23 September at Philsports Arena.
Interestingly, the Road Warriors were handled by assistant coach Adonis Tierra as Frankie Lim was still serving the suspension he incurred the last time he coached Barangay Ginebra San Miguel seven years ago.
Lim, however, is beginning to get to know his team better as proven by the Road Warriors’ back-to-back victories over Ginebra and Meralco.
For Guiao, it’s an opportunity to bring the Elasto Painters back to the playoffs.
For two straight conferences, the Elasto Painters missed the quarterfinals under previous mentor Chris Gavina and with Guiao back at the helm, they are hoping that they could relive a good run under the tutelage of the bench tactician who gave them their two titles.
NLEX appears to be the favorite as far as import match-up is concerned.
Earl Clark, a legitimate National Basketball Association veteran, has been producing solid numbers all conference long and in the Road Warriors’ previous game, he pumped in 25 of his 40 points in the second half.
He definitely has an overwhelming advantage over the smaller Ryan Pearson, who’s been on and off playing for the Elasto Painters.
Against Magnolia, Pearson was plagued by foul troubles, as he managed to score only 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in just 23 minutes of action.
With Beau Belga, Rain or Shine’s paint protector, still a doubtful starter after being sidelined by a strained calf muscle, Pearson will have to work double time and help other big men like Santi Santillan, Norbert Torres and veteran Jewel Ponferada.