Bruno Sundov of Rain or Shine may have the edge and height, but coach Yeng Guiao’s concerns center on Air21 import Michael Dunigan’s power and quickness when the Elasto Painters clash with the Express Wednesday in the PBA Comissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao hopes Sundov’s 7-foot-3 frame will be more then enough to provide the backup defense needed to neutralize Dunigan, a 6-foot-10 grinder.
“That’s where our focus will be. We know they have a strong and quick import, so defense will be crucial,” said Guiao. “What we’ll try to do is put a local on him (Dunigan) and Sundov will be there for the help. I hope it works out.”
Barangay Ginebra, meanwhile, aims to notch its first triumph of the conference after four stinging defeats in the 7:30 p.m. meeting with resurgent Barako Bull.
The Elasto Painters (2-1) are looking to stretch their victory sprint to three in the 5:15 p.m. clash following an imposing 93-65 win over defending champion San Mig Coffee last Friday.
“We can’t bank on our last performance, it was an off-night for San Mig Coffee. What I’m saying is we can’t be too confident against Air21,” said Guiao. “This team has vastly improved. They are more experienced as they’ve played together for quite a while now.”
The Express (1-2), meanwhile, are determined to turn their fortunes around after two consecutive setbacks with the wound of a previous 86-91 loss against Barako Bull still fresh in memory.
Guiao denied swirling rumors that Sundov, a former NBA player, is up
“We’ll keep him. We see some improvements with the way he adjusted with the system. The adjustment is not just particularly on him, but on how the locals have coped with him inside,” said Guiao.
“So far, it’s working well for us.”
Barako Bull is also experiencing a rebirth with former Smart Gilas coach and team consultant Rajko Toroman at the helm.
The Energy, who used to languish at the cellar in previous conferences, and the Petron Blaze Boosters share second spot behind the Alaska Aces (4-0) with identical 3-1 records.
But Toroman is deeply worried about the win-hungry Gin Kings, who are reeling from four straight losses.
“It will be tough for us, they badly need a win and now is a bad time to play them,” said Toroman, the Fiba Asia champion coach who steered Iran to the 2007 continental title.
The Gin Kings replaced import Herbert Hill with Vernon Macklin in their last outing but still couldn’t break off the skid in an 84-69 defeat to the Aces in Tubod, Lanao Del Norte over the weekend.
Macklin had a high efficiency rating in his debut with 16 points and 20 rebounds and yet the effort wasn’t enough as Ginebra locals proved ineffective with Mark Caguioa the only bright spot. The MVP last season also had 20 points.