RoS, Alaska collide in finals opener tonight

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Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia and Alaska head coach Alex Compton shake hands in front of PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa during the pre-finals news conference on Thursday. Also in the photo are (upper row, from left) Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga and import Pierre Henderson-Niles, Alaska’s Sonny Thoss, Robert Dozier, Vic Manuel and Dondon Hontiveros. (Lower row, from left) Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, Maverick Ahanmisi, Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero.  PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia and Alaska head coach Alex Compton shake hands in front of PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa during the pre-finals news conference on Thursday. Also in the photo are (upper row, from left) Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga and import Pierre Henderson-Niles, Alaska’s Sonny Thoss, Robert Dozier, Vic Manuel and Dondon Hontiveros. (Lower row, from left) Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, Maverick Ahanmisi, Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

Rain or Shine and Alaska will clash in Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at 7 p.m. tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.

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The Elasto Painters spoiled San Miguel Beer’s grand slam bid in Game 4 of the semifinals on Sunday (124-99), while Alaska beat Meralco in a do-or-die Game 5 (76-70) on Wednesday.

“Our only advantage is that we have a little more time to rest,” Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia said dur-ing the PBA finals news conference at the PBA Cafe in Pasig City on Thursday. “We are more of a defensive team so we have to slow them down.”

Garcia represented head coach Yeng Guiao who’s busy campaigning in Pampanga as a First District representative.

“Our offense will be there so we have to focus very well on our defense,” added Garcia.

Rain or Shine’s power forward Beau Belga said that he expects the series to be very physical.

“It is going to be more physical because the desire of both teams are there. We are going to battle it out inside the court but we’re friends outside of the court after the game,” said Belga, who is among the PBA’s toughest players.

Alaska’s Calvin Abueva announced the readiness of his team, “I think we’ve been into that [physical]kind of game before, but we are not going to relax and we’ll be ready.”

Abueva who is leading the Best Player of the Conference race with an average of 18 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 as-sists and 1.3 steals per game, said that the award is not important to him but the championship.

“I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “My mind is set on the finals.”

Providing support to Belga is import Pierre Henderson-Niles, Paul Lee, Maverick Ahanmisi, Raymond Almazan, Jeri-cho Cruz, Jewel Ponferada, Chris Tiu, JR Quinahan, Jireh Ibanez and Gabe Norwood.

“It is going to be a good match up, a good series,” said Hender­son-Niles, whose skills will be pitted against Robert Dozier whom he played alongside with during his college years.

“Now it is a different situation though,” he said.

The Elasto Painters suffered a painful defeat by just two points in double overtime to the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Tex-ters in Game 7 in the finals of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup.

“We already forgot it [last year’s loss]. We have to focus here on this series,” said Lee.

Alaska coach Alex Compton, who led his team to a third straight finals appearance said that experience would play a huge part in this year’s finals battle against Rain or Shine.

“They have the best line up and they have the best coach [Guiao]. I’m still looking for our advantage against Rain or Shine in the series,” he said.

Power forward Vic Manuel, who missed the semifinals because of an injury said that he could probably play in Game 3 if his doctor would allow, “Next week, I might play but it depends on the doctor’s suggestion,” he said.

Alaska will bank on the prowess of Chris Exciminiano, Chris Banchero, Noy Baclao, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Honti-veros and RJ Jazul in its battle against RoS.

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