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Guiao, Belga believe SMB heavy favorites in semis series

Yeng Guiao I File Photo

MANILA, Philippines -- Rain or Shine is just one of two teams which had the rare chance of inflicting a loss to defending champion San Miguel Beer during the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup single-round eliminations. But days before their much-awaited best-of-seven semifinal tussle, coach Yeng Guiao and Beau Belga believe San Miguel enters the series as the prohibitive favorite mainly due to June Mar Fajardo’s MVP form this season.

“We know we cannot find anybody bigger than Fajardo so nagpalaki na lang kami,” Guiao said, whose team faces the Beermen next Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Guiao lost three key personnel from last season in Tyrone Tang (retirement) and Ryan Arana, along with Jervy Cruz (trades), but the Elasto Painters managed to get an upgrade by tapping taller rookies Maverick Ahanmishi and Don Trollano, as well as four-year pro Jewel Ponferrada.

“As a team, nawala si TY, pero pumalit naman si Maverick. Nawala si Ryan, pero nandiyan naman si Trollano. Nawala si Jervy pero nandiyan naman si Ponferrada. So all around, nagpalaki kami and I’m hoping na yung size differential will not be much of a problem, especially if we can keep our running game going,” added the fiery Rain or Shine coach.

Belga, Rain or Shine’s heavyweight slotman noted that Fajardo’s bound to cause major problems at the post because of his improved plays.

Still, Belga feels the heads-up plays of Rain or Shine’s rookies and offseason acquisitions could serve as the team’s trump card heading into the race-to-four-wins series.

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“Iyung chances namin now with our rookies, sobrang ganda kasi they are a bunch of rookies na talagang palaban, at nag-fit in sila sa sistema namin,” shared Belga, who is averaging career-high numbers of 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in over 24 minutes of play in the all-Filipino conference.

Rain or Shine subdued San Miguel, 99-84 during the eliminations after limiting the 6-foot-10 Fajardo to just 13 points on seven attempts from the field.

Guiao believes limiting Fajardo’s touches will be critical for Rain or Shine as it tries to neutralize the effectivity of the two-time league MVP.

“You cannot really solve him (Fajardo) eh. But you minimize his effectivity because he’s a high percentage player,” he said.

“Halos di na nagmi-mintis eh. Kahit i-double team mo, nakaka-shoot siya eh so if you can limit his touches, you can partly limit him, but when he touches the ball, because of his size, he still knows how to pass,” added Guiao.

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