• Rain or Shine, Meralco clash for solo lead


    Unbeaten teams Rain or Shine and Meralco collide for the solo lead in the main game of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The Elasto Painters, the defending champions in the tournament, and the Bolts square off at 7 p.m. right after the opening tussle between Alaska and Mahindra at 4:15 p.m.

    Rain or Shine and Meralco are sharing the top spot with 3-0 win-loss mark each while the Aces and the Star are behind them with identical 2-0 slates.

    Alexander Stepheson of Meralco sneaks past James White of Mahindra during a 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup game at the Araneta Coliseum on March 17. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    Elasto Painters head coach Caloy Garcia said their frontline, led by import Shawn Taggart, will play a crucial role against the Bolts, who will be bannered by the 6’10 reinforcement Alex Stepheson.

    “We have to match up Meralco’s intensity and try to keep their import (Stepheson) off the boards,” explained Garcia. “They have an import who compliments the locals so I think that’s one of the reasons why they are winning.”

    Taggart has been producing consistent numbers for Rain or Shine the reason the squad is off to a hot start. And his defensive presence will be needed in neutralizing Stepheson, who is averaging 24 points per game.

    The Elasto Painters import is averaging 26 points and 10.6 rebounds in the first three games in the mid-season conference.

    Anthony Washington played big in the Elasto Painters’ 95-88 win over Blackwater last Sunday with two crucial three-pointers in the closing minutes.

    Bolts head coach Norman Black said the game versus the reigning titlists will be a gauge for their campaign in the tournament.

    “The game versus Rain or Shine will be another big test on our defense,” said Black. “They hit you from a variety of ways. Trying to slow down (Shawn) Taggart will be the No. 1 priority but we have to also do a good job against their shooters.”

    Besides Stepheson, Black will also bank on Baser Amer, Jared Dillinger and Chris Newsome as they try to extend their unbeaten start to four games.

    The three players played big in their 94-89 win over sister team TNT KaTropa last week.

    Meanwhile, Alaska also aims to remain unscathed as it seeks its third straight victory over the Floodbuster, who are coming off an 89-81 win over NLEX that snapped a two-game skid.

    The Aces of coach Alex Compton are also coming off a victory over GlobalPort, 107-79, a follow up to their 109-95 win against the Elite. Import Corey Jefferson had 28 points in those matches.


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