For the first game of Sunday’s PBA Philippine Cup twin bill, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the Phoenix Fuel Masters are back in action to play their first game this year after ending their 2016, both, in a positive note.
The E-Painters, after sustaining a defeat from James Yap’s former team, Star Hotshots, got back up quickly to return to the winning side by giving coach Yeng Guiao and his new squad a 107-97 beatdown and collect their fourth win in six outing.
The story is a little bit more interesting for the Fuel Masters. After dropping their first game, they stunned the reigning champions SMB and hand them their lone loss before rolling past the then winless Mahindra. But the two-game winning streak got easily halted when they dropped their last two games, averaging a losing margin of 31.5 points against Star and TNT.
The Phoenix regrouped and now seemed to improve as they bounced back from two horrible losses and survived their last two games to notch higher in the rankings, tying the KaTropa at the third place, just below the E-Painters.
And now, both fresh from a holiday layoff, these two teams are looking to avoid rustiness and complacency to have a shot at clinching the twice-to-beat edge. Coach Caloy Garcia will expectedly rely on Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, James Yap, and backcourt duo Jericho Cruz and Maverick Ahanmisi as they have a task of containing the shooters of Fuel Masters particulary JC Intal, Simon Enciso, Cyrus Baguio, and Matthew Wright. The curtain-raiser will take place at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum at 4:30 p.m.