Philippine Daily Inquirer
Beermen, Painters opens’ final battle today
RAIN OR SHINE looks to be capable—on paper—to finally end a string of setbacks against San Miguel Beer.
Pierre Henderson-Niles doesn’t exactly fit the bill of a super import, but the hardworking 270-pound banger looks big enough to make it a level playing field when the Elasto Painters open their best-offive series with the Beermen in the OppoPBA Commissioner’s Cup today.
“We’ve had problems with San Miguel’s size every time,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said. “Now we are hoping to have addressed that (with Henderson-Niles).”
Game time is at 5 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Painters looking to win a third straight game and stay unblemished in these playoffs.
Rain or Shine has gone through a total of four import changes, and Niles didn’t come in as impressive as two of the first three but seems to be what the doctor has ordered for the Painters to finally break a streak of bad fortune against the Beermen.
San Miguel has beaten Rain or Shine in their last two playoff series, but the Painters are looking better with Henderson-Niles, who will be tasked to take on June Mar Fajardo and duplicate what he did in Rain or Shine’s sweep of Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
Henderson-Niles shut down the 7-foot Greg Slaughter in that series and the Painters ran away with a 2-0 victory.
But the 6-foot-10 Fajardo is not the reigning two-time MVP for nothing, and the Beermen are a far better team than their more popular sister squad the Gin Kings, with San Miguel, as coach Leo Austria had put it, having its eye on a Grand Slam after surviving Star in the last round.
Tyler Wilkerson will also be a concern of the Rain or Shine defense, with the leading Best Import candidate surely to be a matchup problem for anyone on Guiao’s bench.
Rain or Shine also took out Othyus Jeffers in the Ginebra series and must be able to do something of the same against Wilkerson if the Painters are to finally break through.
San Miguel’s past opponents showed that Fajardo can be neutralized somehow.
In their last game against Tropang TNT in the eliminations, David Simon gave the San Miguel cornerstone all the problems he could handle before tiring out, while the Hotshots had Ricard Ratliffe shackle Fajardo and almost led Star to the great reversal in the quarterfinals.