Meralco guns for solo lead

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Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine executes a power dunk. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine executes a power dunk. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

Meralco guns for an early solo lead when it battles last season’s first runner-up Rain or Shine today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

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After winning their first two games last week, the Bolts aim to remain unbeaten when they meet the Elasto Painters in the second game at 7 p.m. after the Phoenix Fuel Masters’ debut game against the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Road Warriors at 4:15 p.m.

The Bolts previously defeated the Star Hotshots 90-86, and Talk ‘N Text 88-84.

“We are going up against a high powered team in Rain or Shine, so we must bring out our A game. Our transition defense and the ability to guard the three-point line will be the keys for us. It’s still early so the jury is still out. What we are striving for is a level of consistency in our game. Rain or Shine should be a good test,” veteran Meralco coach Norman Black told The Manila Times via text message.

Meralco will bank on the skills of 6’9 import Arinze Onuaku in the team’s campaign against the Elasto Painters. Onuaku will be supported by teammates Gary David, Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge, Chris Newsome, Baser Amer and Reynel Hugnatan.

Coach Yeng Guiao of the Elasto Painters, on the other hand, is expecting much from import Wayne Chism.

“There are so many things that we need to see from Wayne [Chism]. He struggled in his first game against the Star [Hotshots] because we had no tune-up games during the break. Meralco is playing very well and their import is practically fit to their system,” said Guiao.

Despite scoring only 13 points plus eight rebounds against the Hotshots, Guiao is confident that Chism would redeem himself. “Going up against the Star Hotshots, we will play better tomorrow [today]. I’m confident Chism can regain his old form,” he said.

The Elasto Painters defeated the Star Hotshots (95-86) last Saturday for a 1-0 win-loss record.

Rain or Shine will most likely miss guard Paul Lee for the second straight game because of knee injury but rookie playmaker Maverick Ahanmisi, Jericho Cruz, Don Trollano, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan and JR Quiñahan will lead the Elasto Painters’ charge.

Newcomer Phoenix (formerly the Barako Bull franchise) under the tutelage of coach Koy Banal will lean on the prowess of the 6’9 Nigerian import Kenny Adeleke with the support of JC Intal, Willie Wilson, Mick Pennisi, Josh Urbiztondo and Mac Baracael.

The Road Warriors are coming off an impressive 114-112 overtime win against the Ginebra Gin Kings on Friday.

Import Al Thornton, a National Basketball Association veteran, who scored 50 points in that game is expected to lead his teammates anew with the help of Kevin Alas, Jonas Villanueva, Paul Asi Taulava, Sean Anthony and rookie Garvo Lanete.

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