Playoff posturing heats up; Rain or Shine seeks end to slumpBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Rain or Shine tries to snap a two-game losing streak and keep within sight of the lead Wednesday when the Elasto Painters battle Barako Bull in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
The Painters will come into the 5:15 p.m. game still licking the wounds of an 87-79 loss to an import-less Petron Blaze side on Saturday that knocked them out of second place for the first time in close to a month.
Coupled with an Alaska win over the weekend, the Painters are now 2-1/2 games off the pace and are trailing the Boosters by a full game in the race for a 1-2 finish and a great incentive in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Air21 shoots for a third straight victory later in the night when it clashes with defending champion San Mig Coffee in the 7:30 p.m. contest where the Mixers will be without versatile big man Joe Devance.
Devance injured his left knee in a 76-71 victory over Meralco last Friday, leaving coach Tim Cone with one less big man as the Mixers try to stop the rampaging Michael Dunigan of the Express. Dunigan will be coming off back-to-back monster games and would surely be Cone’s biggest concern.
“We are looking forward to our game against San Mig, because that is very crucial for us (in our playoff drive),” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said. Air21 is at 3-5, tied for seventh spot with a similarly streaking Barangay Ginebra crew and the Energy.
Bruno Sundov, the 7-foot-3 beanpole, and a formidable local nucleus will carry the fight for the Painters, who haven’t lost three straight game this season outside of the Philippine Cup finals, where they were swept by Talk ‘N Text.
Barako Bull, meanwhile, will be trying to snap a four-game losing streak and get back into the playoff hunt.
As things stand, the Energy, Express and Gin Kings are 1-1/2 games ahead of the idle Globalport Batang Pier, who are occupying the cellar. Globalport is having a meeting on what to do with import Walter Sharpe, who was seen sleeping in a parking lot while allegedly intoxicated after a loss to Alaska last Sunday.
“We are saddened by the reports of the incident the other night after our tough loss to Alaska,” team manager BJ Manalo said. “Rest assured that our organization will sanction the people involved because we believe that we have a responsibility to the PBA and fans.”