WINNERS in their PBA Philippine Cup debuts, the Rain or Shine Elastopainters and San Miguel Beermen try to build on their good start and go for their second win against separate opponents in league action today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Elastopainters tussle with the Mahindra Floodbuster in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m. while the Beermen engage the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters in the night cap at 7 p.m.
Rain or Shine, coached anew by Caloy Garcia, began their campaign in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament on the right foot, fashioning out a 101-87 win over TNT KaTropa on opening week.
Banking on a balanced attack in their first game of the post-Yeng Guiao era, the Elastopainters cruised past the KaTropa side.
Jericho Cruz led all Rain or Shine scorers with 18 points with Beau Belga chipping in 14.
Raymond Almazan had a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds while Gabe Norwood and rookie Mike Tolomia had 13 and 11 points, respectively.
“It’s a good game for us, but it doesn’t stop with just one game. Hopefully, the team comes out with the same character every outing,” said Mr. Garcia after their first win.
Out to halt Rain or Shine is Mahindra, which is eyeing a bounce back after tripping in its maiden game against GlobalPort Batang Pier, 97-75.
New face Alex Mallari and the comebacking Jason Deutchman paced the Floodbuster in the losing cause with the former, acquired from the Star Hotshots, posting all-around numbers of 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block, and the latter accounting for 14 points.
San Miguel, meanwhile, returns to the hardwood after a nine-day layoff from their 96-88 win over Star on opening day on Nov. 20.
Reigning league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo had a monster game of 25 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks to lead his team in their come-from-behind win over the Hotshots.
Alex Cabagnot had 22 markers and eight assists while Arwind Santos finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“I was really worried in our opening game because we usually don’t start our season with a game in the opener. But I’m happy with the result, especially with the starters who led us tonight,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria in his postgame press conference.
The Beermen go for win number two against Phoenix, which dropped its debut versus Blackwater Elite, 94-97.
Simon Enciso topscored for the Fuel Masters with 25 points in their opener.
Meanwhile, rookie Mac Belo was the first recipient of the PBA player of the week honors this conference after leading Blackwater to a 2-0 record on opening week. The Gilas cadet member is averaging 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in his first two games in the local pro league.
“I just have to continue improving. I have to push myself and condition myself for the tougher grind ahead. I have been playing well this early and I know the other teams are scouting me so I just have to be prepared,” Mr. Belo said of the mind-set that he will try to have moving forward.
-- Michael Angelo S. Murillo