B-Meg is surging while Rain or Shine is skidding.
Both teams may be charting opposite directions at the moment but an explosive collision will occur at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as the Llamados and the Elasto Painters continue pursuing one of the top two spots at the end of their 14-game schedule.
The Llamados, who are already in sync with coach Tim Cone’s triangle offense, have made up for a faulty 2-4 start and pocketed four consecutive victories against Shopinas.com (76-65), Meralco (95-89), Alaska (92-89) and Barangay Ginebra (88-76) to improve to 6-4.
Rain Or Shine presents a great challenge for B-Meg since the Elasto Painters are coming off back-to-back losses to Petron Blaze (90-80) and league-leader Talk N Text (106-104).
Now sharing second spot with Petron Blaze at 7-3, the Elasto Painters would like to get back into the win column and avert further skid that that may put them in a tight fix.
Prior to those losses, Rain or Shine looked rock-solid as the Elasto Painters bulldozed their way to five consecutive wins behind the red-hot hands of Jeff Chan whom coach Yeng Guiao admits is “the most consistent scorer of the team.”
But Guiao was quick to point out that they weren’t winning because of Chan’s offense. “We are winning because of our team defense,” he said.
As it is, in their last two matches, the defense had faltered and the Elasto Painters allowed their opponents an average of 98 points a game.
They would like to go back to the basics and force the Llamados to bleed for their points.
That, however, is better said than done as stopping B-Meg’s main man, James Yap, is already a big problem.
Yap is the third leading scorer of the tournament, averaging 18.1 points a game. And he isn’t the only prolific scorer for the Llamados.
In their last game against Ginebra, Yap submitted 17 points but Marc Pingris and Roger Yap were the steadying factors in the homestretch where they tossed in six points each to help B-Meg secure the win.
And then there are the likes of Peter June Simon, Josh Urbiztondo and rookie Andy Mark Barroca who have the capability to explode anytime.
B-Meg will also be using its height advantage against Rain or Shine as the Llamados have the personnel to control the paint what with the likes of Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, Joe Devance, Rafi Reavis and newly-acquired Yancy de Ocampo.
Still, Rain Or Shine has the more physical big men who will try to intimidate their counterparts. Beau Belga, Larry Rodriguez, JR Quinahan and Ronnie Matias may look smaller but are always ready for the tough grind.
Chan will be supported by Gabe Norwood, Ronjay Buenafe ad prized rookie Paul Lee, who is actually the Elasto Painters’ top assistman with five doleouts a game.
Should B-Meg include Rain or Shine among is victims, the Llamados will tie the Elasto Painters and idle Meralco Bolts at third spot and will be just within reach of the Boosters and the Tropang Texters.
Top two teams at the end of the elims will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage against their opponents in the quarterfinals. (BP)