Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meralco vs Rain or Shine in the PBA

Meralco, with its active roster finally coming in full force, seeks payback against Rain or Shine Sunday when they open up Sunday's double-header in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Bolts and the Elasto Painters are both gunning for the top spot in the season-opening conference as the winner in their 4:15 p.m. match-up will get the chance of taking sole leadership.

Meralco has already reactivated Mark Cardona and Sol Mercado from the injured list. The Bolts are also set to welcome big man Reynel Hugnatan in time for their rematch with the league leader.

The Bolts, minus their three stalwarts, dropped an 89-84 decision to the Elasto Painters in their first meeting more than a week ago.

Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio expects to give Rain or Shine a good fight with his top gunners back in harness. "The last time we played them we had an incomplete roster."

"Sol, Mac, and Reynel are back, and I believe we have a much better chance of matching up against them and hopefully win in the end," said Gregorio, whose Bolts hold a 4-2 win-loss slate and are currently on a two-game winning run.

The Painters, on the other hand, share the lead with defending champion Talk 'N Text and Barako Bull at 4-1. RoS is also fresh from a 120-84 rout of the Alaska Aces.

"RoS is playing excellent basketball," admitted Gregorio. "They are so fluid that all the players are in good sync. Everyone is capable of scoring so our team defense must be as solid as possible."

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, however, said Meralco is now a different team with Mercado, Cardona, and Hugnatan back for the Bolts.

"It's going to be a totally different ball game from the first time we played them," said the gung-ho mentor. "With Sol and Mac-Mac healthy, the complexion of the game changes. We have to step up defensively to have a chance at winning. Teams are starting to give us the second looks and are preparing a lot harder when playing us."

All eyes will also be focused on the likely match-up between Rain or Shine rookie Paul Lee and Mercado, who tweeted a few weeks ago about the hype being given on the sensational freshman out of University of the East.

In the 6:30 p.m. main game, Petron and Powerade clash hoping to end their respective two-game skids.

The Blaze Boosters have dropped their last two games after winning their first three games. Only last Friday, Petron suffered a 96-86 setback at the hands of the Tropang Texters in a rematch of their Governors Cup title showdown.

That second loss dropped the Blaze Booster to a tie with sister-team Ginebra at 3-2.

The Tigers also lost their last two assignments, including a heartbreaking 73-72 setback against the Kings in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. — JVP, GMA News

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