What a way to start the conference huh?
Not only did the powers that be schedule an opening day game for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, they also decided to pit them up against a San Mig Coffee team that’s just raring to turn some heads this conference after an unfavourable Commissioner’s Cup.
Both teams have players who just finished suiting up for Smart Gilas. Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan for ROS and Marc Pingris for SMC. While reports indicate that both Norwood and Chan are both available for ROS, while SMC has allowed Pingris to take this game off. With that, let’s move on with this pre-game assuming that all three players will sit out this game for some well deserved rest.
I won’t delve in too much about the Elasto Painters since you can read about their build-up coming into this Governor’s Cup in our conference preview of the team.
For the Mixers, two things stand out.
- They brought back the high scoring and high flying Marqus Blakely.
- James Yap is healthy and is motivated to bounce back from arguably his worst conference as a pro.
What should the Elasto Painters do to come out with an opening day victory? Let’s take a look at their keys to the game:
- Reintroduce Yourselves: It seems that people are expecting James Yap to put up some crazy numbers this conference. Sure, he could do that, but not against Yap-stoppers Jireh Ibanez and Larry Rodriguez. These two should reintroduce themselves early and often to Yap and just hound him all night long. For some reason, the ROS defense is just able to contain Yap and I expect the trend to continue in this opening game.
- No Heroes: Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood will be on the bench, but the rest of the Elasto Painters shouldn’t expect both to play in this game. Need a three? Don’t hope for Chan to save you. Need a stop? Don’t expect Norwood to bail you out. While these two are integral parts of the team, the rest of the non-Gilas ROS players have been playing and training together for quite some time now. They know how to play without these guys and they should be fine as long as they don’t treat it as a disadvantage.
- #WinFromWithin: Yup, the new Gatorade tagline makes perfect sense in this game. Without Pingris and with Blakely playing more like a small than a big, expect SMC to be very undermatched in the interior with only Yancy De Ocampo and Raffi Reavis as the only defensively oriented big men (Yup, I’m not really sold on Devance as a defensive presence). Belga, Quinahan, Cruz and Reid should take advantage of this and put pressure on the SMC interior from the get go.
Rain or Shine definitely drew quite a tough opening day matchup, but the team should have enough to handle this San Mig Coffee team. As for James Yap? His BPC-worthy performance would have to be put on hold first.