Painters resume title bid vs Boosters todayBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Rain or Shine, a full two games up on its closest pursuer, shoots for one of two wins it needs for a first-ever PBA Finals appearance when the Elasto Painters battle the Petron Blaze Boosters at the start of the Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
And Meralco, the hard-fighting squad which will take the worst record into the round, guns for the first of five wins it needs to reach the title series when the Bolts slug it out with the crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the other game.
With a leading carryover 8-1 slate, the E-Painters have never had it this good in the league, and coach Yeng Guiao knows that complacency is the thing they need most to avoid at this stage in the conference.
“Yes, we’d like to think that we are a game or two away,” Guiao had said. “But I would instill in the minds of my players that if we want to make the finals, we must win as many games as we could.”
Rain or Shine takes the floor at 7:30 p.m. practically blind as far as handling new Petron import Marcus Faison is concerned.
The Bolts, who knocked out Powerade on Wednesday, starts the semifinals against the Gin Kings at 5:15 p.m.
With idle second-placer B-Meg at 6-3, winning just two games would give Rain or Shine a 10-4 record, which would be second-best if the Llamados stay unscathed in the round and wind up with an 11-3 record.
Jamelle Cornley has proven his worth for the E-Painters, who had a franchise-best 4-0 start and topped an elimination round for the first time.
Super rookie Paul Lee and former Rookie of the Year Gabe Norwood will also be relied upon by Guiao, who resisted and rejected all trade offers in the preseason to be able to whip the core of the squad into a cohesive unit.
Petron’s import problems started after Eddie Basden injured his right knee seven games into the elimination round. It has been shopping around for a replacement before finally deciding to bring in Faison, a Belgian-American who plays for Belgium’s national team.
The playoffs, meanwhile, could prove to be a very significant one for Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa, who can contend for his first-ever MVP award if he takes the Kings to the Finals.
With Gary David’s Powerade squad eliminated on Wednesday, the road seems clear for Caguioa, who automatically became a candidate after winning the Commissioner’s Cup’s Best Player of the Conference award.