Hoping to surpass their finals appearance in last year’s Philippine Cup, the Elasto Painters seem to be on the right track, thanks their 2nd place finish in the elimination round.
As we speak, they are in the middle of a scintillating seven-game winning streak.
However, having a twice-to-beat advantage over a rookie-laden Batang Pier team is more of a blessing than a convenience – even if they finished with a measly 5-9 record compared to the Painters’ 11-3, they have shown flashes of brilliance in some of their games.
Though they lost two weeks ago against the Painters, they managed to squeeze in a two-point win last month.
So, how will this playoff fixture fare?
Advantage: The Painters
Let’s get this straight: the Elasto Painters have all the tools to completely dominate the Batang Pier – on paper, that is.
Bannered by three Gilas mainstays (Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga) and coached by multi-titled mentor Yeng Guiao, it is as if the Painters will breeze past their opponents.
That said however, we all know that the whole team is a complete offensive machine – Coach Yeng utilizes his rotation up to the 12th man and more than eight players score seven points per game on average.
Add the fact that the Batang Pier’s rotation reeks of inexperience; rookie coach Richie Ticzon will definitely have his hands full.
Backcourt: Though this fixture may seem to be tipped in favor of the Painters, the Batang Pier’s backcourt doesn’t lack fireworks: veteran Sol Mercado and rookie sensations RR Garcia and reigning college (UAAP) MVP, Terrence Romeo.
They will be matched up with Gilas mainstays Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood, burly point guard Paul Lee and the explosive Ryan Arana.
We’ll most likely see Norwood manning Romeo or Mercado, who happens to be one of his closest friends.
That said, it’s more likely that the Painters will emerge the victors in this duel, given that defensive gems Alex Nuyles, Chris Tiu (don’t be deceived by his looks) and Jireh Ibanes will certainly give the Batang Pier all they can handle – unless Romeo, Garcia and Mercado will record appalling digits and play with championship intensity in their next two games (if they win the first).
Batang Pier reserve guards Jaypee Belencion, Rudy Lingganay and Mark Yee have to step up in order to tip the scales.
Frontcourt: The Elasto Painters are known for possessing the two burliest and seemingly immovable centers in the PBA: the Extra Rice Incorporated composed of Beau Belga and JR Quinahan, supported by undersized PF Jervy Cruz and 6’7 rookie Raymond Almazan. The Batang Pier meanwhile is backstopped by the bull-strong Jondan Salvador, battle-scarred 37 year old Eric Menk, workhorse Kelly Nabong and promising rookies, Justin Chua and Nico Salva. Despite the Painters’ burliness, the Extra Rice Inc is composed of accurate mid-range and three-point shooters, as evidenced by this recent game winner over the Meralco Bolts by JR Quinahan.
This disadvantage comes with the injury of Jay Washington; the Batang Pier’s starting PF/C and a candidate for the best player of the conference who will be out for the rest of the tournament due to a knee injury.
One thing they have though is the quickness of their Ateneo Blue Eagles duo, Salva and Chua.
We will most likely see an evenly matched battle between the frontcourts of these two sides.
Overall: The Painters have been the epitome of consistency this season, while the Batang Pier has been CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT.
We might be able to see the latter team pull the rug from under the former’s feet in the first game, but can will they be able to sustain it in the second?
Verdict: Rain or Shine 1-1 GlobalPort. RoS goes to the semis by virtue of their twice-to-beat advantage and will meet the winner of the best-of-three quarterfinal series between the Petron Blaze Boosters and the Barako Bull Energy Cola.