MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters tangle in a crucial showdown Wednesday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum in a game that will have major implications on the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.
The Elasto Painters are the hottest team in the league as they bring a five-game winning streak into the contest, and a win against Meralco will keep them in the running for the all-important twice-to-beat edge in the playoffs.
But Meralco has also won back-to-back games and is keen to book a victory in order to formalize their entry into the quarterfinals.
“Our mentality has not changed,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio told PBA.ph. “We are still on survival mode. We are conscious of our situation, and every victory counts.”
“We are up against the hottest team in the league. Rain or Shine has won five straight, and they are functioning so well. We must disrupt their flow and the antidote is our tough defensive stance,” he added.
Rain or Shine Coach Yeng Guiao is equally wary of Meralco, as he knows that a loss may allow the Petron Blaze Boosters to overtake them in the league standings.
“We need to keep the fire burning,” he said. “All our efforts are focused on gaining a twice-to-beat advantage. The moment we slip, Petron is going to pounce on the opportunity.”
The key for Rain or Shine is limiting the production of forward Jared Dillinger, who has stepped up in the absence of point guard Mike Cortez.
“Meralco is playing beyond expectations without their top point guard. Dillinger has been keeping this team above water with his heads-up plays,” said Guiao. “We have to be able to slow him down a little bit.”
Game time is at 5:45 p.m.