• Elasto Painters begin title defense vs Road Warriors

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    Rain or Shine starts its title-retention bid against its former coach Yeng Guiao and NLEX today at the start of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    The Elasto Painters and the Road Warriors face off at 7 p.m. while Mahindra and Meralco meet in the curtain raiser at 4:15 p.m.

    Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia said his team is now complete with the return of Raymund Almazan in the roster.

    Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine fires a shot past Mic Pennisi of Phoenix during the 2016 edition of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. FILE PHOTO

    The defending champions are also parading Shawn Taggart as their import for the mid-season conference.

    “I feel that both teams are going to come out strong but it will boil down to execution,” Garcia said in a text message.

    “Coach Yeng (Guiao) brought Wayne (Chism) into NLEX to quicken the progress of their team so I think they will be a better team this conference,” he added.

    Guiao was responsible in giving Rain or Shine its second title last season after beating Alaska in the finals. He transferred to NLEX prior the start of the season.

    Guiao had an awful conference debut with the Road Warriors in the Philippine Cup, finishing with just 2-9 win-loss record to miss the playoff round.

    “We will be happy to make the quarters and see what happens from thereon,” said Guiao.

    “Chism is blending well with the team. We are also working on improving our maturity and ability to handle pressure. We’ll see it in our first game,” he added.

    Chism, who won the Best Import award while playing for Rain or Shine during the 2015 season Commissioner’s Cup, faces his old teammates in his debut with the Road Warriors.

    “Playoff experience will be very useful in developing the character of this team, which we sorely lacked in the first conference,” said Guiao.

    In the opener, the Floodbuster are bringing back import James White for the tournament while the Bolts are parading a new face in Alex Stepheson.

    “We are truly excited to start this conference on opening day against Meralco,” said Mahindra coach Chris Gavina.

    The Floodbuster had an early exit in the last Commissioner’s Cup with a 4-7 win-loss record where they lost top rookie Russel Escoto because of knee injury.

    Meralco has a new acquisition in Chris Lutz, a pick up from the free agency pool after getting released by San Miguel Beer. Lutz is still recuperating from an ankle injury and will only be available in May.

    The Bolts reached the semis in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup but lost to the Aces.

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