Though managing his playoff expectations, Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao isn’t keen on pressing the panic button despite chaging import in the final stretch of the PBA Governors Cup eliminations.
Originally, the Elasto Painters let go of Dior Lowhorn and tapped Colorado State standout Greg Smith.
But the youthful Smith went beyond the 6-5 height limit for American import, forcing Guiao to instead, bring in former Alaska reinforcement Jason Forte.
With Forte, the fiery Rain or Shine mentor is confident they can turn the corner as the team plays its last four games in the elimination round.
“Unlike last conference na four times kami nagpalit pero napanalo pa rin namin, ngayon, dalawa pa lang so baka mas mapaganda pa,” Guiao said, whose team begins the first of its back-to-back games this weekend.
“We don’t have any negative feeling about changing our import.”
Rain or Shine (3-4) and Forte face giant killer Mahindra (6-2) on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, followed by NLEX on Sunday.
Guiao said they are welcoming Forte into the team, a familiar face for him since the former Southern Mississippi standout played under him at Air21 in 2010.
But while Forte is expected to deliver solid numbers, Guiao wants to see his local crew of Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and Beau Belga deliver the goods against Mahindra.
“I told my players that everything that he (Forte) will do is just a bonus,” he said. “Coming into the game, we should have the attitude of playing a giant killer and a legitimate contender this conference (in Mahindra).”
Guiao said they have no intention of getting rolled over by an Enforcer side that have beaten powerhouse squads like defending champion San Miguel, Alaska and even TNT.
“We should stay in the running, we are just fighting to stay alive for the moment,” said the former Pampanga solon.
The Enforcer, on the other hand, plan to shoot down another powerhouse team to bolster their chances for a top 2 finish.
“They (Elasto Painters) are the defending champions, so it’s gonna come down to a championship preparation,” said lead assistant coach Chris Gavina, whose team clinched their first-ever playoff appearance last week after beating the Katropa.
Mahindra though, will have to do it minus top veteran wingman KG Canaleta, who underwent appendectomy Thursday morning. The 6-foot-6 forward, one of the Enforcer’s key contributors in the Governors Cup, will miss several games.
Nonetheless, Gavina feels they have all the tools to clinch their seventh win with their new-found confidence.
“All our guys willing to work to be always ready because that’s our philosophy, next man up,” he said. – Jason Mercene
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