Rain or Shine shoots for a crucial victory today against defending champion San Miguel Beer with only a day left in the elimination round of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Elasto Painters with at 5-4 win-loss record, need to win against the Beermen in their 7 p.m. encounter to clinch a slot in the quarterfinals. Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) battles TNT KaTropa in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
“We know it’s going to be a tough task playing against the No. 1 team,” said Garcia. “With June Mar (Fajardo) back, it is going to be tougher. We have to double our effort on defense and try to minimize June Mar’s touches.”
Fajardo, who just returned from a stint with Gilas in the FIBA Asian Qualifiers last week, is averaging 23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in nine games.
“It is not only Fajardo that he should be wary of but also Arwind Santos, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter,” he added.
If they lose to the Beermen, the Elasto Painters will battle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the last day of the elimination round on Friday in a do-or-die duel for a quarterfinals berth.
Rain or Shine needs to beat San Miguel Beer and the Gin Kings to gain entry into the No. 3 to 6 quarterfinals spots (best-of-three).
The Beermen are jumping into the fray with a twice-to-beat edge and an 8-2 win-loss record.
“Whether the game has a bearing or none, we are going to play to win,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, whose team is gunning for a fourth straight Philippine Cup title this season.
NLEX, meanwhile, is bent on pushing TNT KaTropa out of the quarterfinals race.
With a 6-4 win-loss record, the Road Warriors just needed to win their last game in the elimination to enter the best-of-three and avoid facing twice-to-beat teams (No. 1 and 2).
TNT, at 4-6, is fighting for dear life. A loss will put the KaTropa in the group of already-eliminated teams Meralco and Kia.