Rain or Shine and Meralco dispute the early lead when the Elasto Painters and the Bolts collide Saturday, July 24 as the 46th PBA Season Philippine Cup continues at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.
Action in the pro league will continue despite the declaration of the government regarding the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions in Metro Manila due to the confirmed transmission of the Delta COVID-19 variant as the PBA was granted special permit.
With that, expect the Bolts and the Elasto Painters to go all out when they meet each other at 2 p.m.
The two teams are currently in a three-way tie for the lead with the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok all with 2-0 cards, but either Rain or Shine, or Meralco will get a chance to climb up for the solo lead.
RoS mentor Chris Gavina said that it takes a great effort to compete against the Bolts.
“We’ve discussed and emphasized all week long that we have to be willing to be doing the ordinary things ‘extraordinarily’ when it comes to playing a team like the Meralco Bolts,” said Gavina.
“Being able to execute the details in our defensive assignments and rules, as well as dictating our style of play becomes of utmost priority for us. Our goal every game is to not beat ourselves and make sure we don’t get outworked.”
“That’s our mindset going into the battle with Meralco,” he added.
Outworking their opponent is what the Painters have been doing in their first two games, which allowed them to escape with a thrilling 83-82 win against the NLEX Road Warriors on opening day last Friday, July 16, and score a 71-62 victory over the Blackwater Bossing two days later.
Rey Nambatac has been averaging 20 pointsand10 rebounds for Rain or Shine, numbers that led him to being named the first PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for this season.
But it’s not just Nambatac that Gavina can rely on when they face the Bolts as youngsters like Javee Mocon and Norbert Torres are capable contributors, as well as veterans Beau Belga and Gabe Nowood.
On the other hand, Meralco, which won big against NorthPort 85-63 on opening day, before outdueling San Miguel Beer for a 93-87 triumph last Sunday, got a solid outing from new recruit Mac Belo – acquired in an off-season trade with Blackwater – for coach Norman Black.
Providing support for Belo are former Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome, ‘bubble’ tournament top rookie Aaron Black, Allein Maliksi, Raymond Almazan, Cliff Hodge, rookie Alvin Pasaol and veteran Reynel Hugnatan.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters try to snap a two-game skid as they shoot for their first win this season when they take on the Alaska Aces (1-1) in the main game at 6 p.m.