Rain or Shine seeks to move into the second spot when it faces Meralco today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
The Elasto Painters will meet Bolts in the 4:15 p.m. game followed by the 7 p.m. match between the Gin Kings and the Elite.
Rain or Shine is still dazed from its 101-107 loss to champions San Miguel Beermen last week. The Elasto Painters, with a 5-3 win-loss record are sharing No. 2 to 3 spots with GlobalPort.
“A test of character for our team coming off a loss that we could have won,” Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia told The Manila Times via text message. “Meralco is no pushover. They may be in the bottom right now but they always play hard. It’s hard to play against a team with nothing to lose.”
Current No.1 San Miguel Beer is already assured of a twice-to-beat in the semifinals with an 8-1 win-loss record.
Rain or Shine will be relying on Beau Belga, Jewel Ponferada, Anthony Jay Washington, Chris Tiu, Ronnie Matias, Raymond Almazan, Maverick Ahanmisi, rookie Mike Tolomia, Jericho Cruz and two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap as it battles the Bolts.
Meralco, after losing to Ginebra in Iloilo City last Saturday, must avoid absorbing its seventh straight setback. The Bolts, under coach Norman Black, with a 2-7 win-loss record are already out of the race for a quarterfinals slot.
The Bolts will be relying on their newly acquired guard Chris Lutz, a former Beerman, Chris Newsome, Reynel Hugnatan, Baser Amer, rookie Ed Daquioag and Cliff Hodge.
Blackwater, meanwhile, is aiming to score a second straight win this week against Barangay Ginebra. The Elite, led by Shej Roi Sumang and rookie Mac Belo, escaped the Alaska Aces, 103-100, last Sunday to improve their win-loss record to 5-4.
Besides Belo and Sumang, Arthur Dela Cruz, Raymond Aguilar, playmaker Nards Pinto, center James Sena and forward Rey Cervantes are also expected to step up for the Elite.
The Gin Kings with a 4-4 win-loss record are aiming for back-to-back wins.
“Big weekend for us playing two teams ahead of us in the standings,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone via text message. “Blackwater is a legit and playing great basketball. They are certainly a playoff team. They have real good young players, and we need to play smart and tough basketball to beat them.”
Ginebra will lean on Japeth Aguilar, Solomon Mercado, LA Tenorio, Joe Devance and Chris Ellis as it faces Blackwater.