Two undefeated teams collide this Saturday afternoon, with the Meralco Bolts taking on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Which between these teams will get to t 3-0 to start the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup?
Catch this game live on July 24 at 2 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (2-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymond Almazan
The Bolts sent a clearer message across the league about why they’re a team to be taken seriously after defeating the San Miguel Beermen last Sunday, 93-87 for their second win in a row to start the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. In their first game of the conference, the Bolts took down the NorthPort Batang Pier, 85-63.
Meralco will look to feed off the energy of Chris Newsome, who bounced back from a poor performance in the NorthPort game where he just scored four points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field by unloading 17 points against the Beermen. Meanwhile, it was the total opposite for Mac Belo, who had 27 points against the Batang Pier but mustered just seven points versus San Miguel. Then again, Belo took just 5 shots against the Beermen whereas he launched 18 in the opener.
Meralco shouldn’t have problems getting offense from its wing guys, as apart from Belo and Newsome, the Bolts have Allein Maliksi coming off the bench. Rain or Shine is known for its defense, but the Bolts have the weapons to break through the Elasto Painters’ stop unit.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (2-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Rey Nambatac
- SG: Jayvee Mocon
- SF: Gabe Norwood
- PF: Beau Belga
- C: Norbert Torres
As mentioned earlier, Rain or Shine boasts of a suffocating defense that both the NLEX Road Warriors and the Blackwater Bossing could attest. In their first game of the conference, the Elasto Painters escaped with an 83-82 win over NLEX, which they held down to just 34 FG%.
They followed that up with a more convincing 71-62 win against the Bossing, who shot just 33 FG%. Rain or Shine isn’t shooting well either so far this season, as it’s making just 38% of their field-goal attempts, but as long as the Elasto Painters’ defense is clicking, they will have plenty of chances to gain momentum and run away with it.
Still, Rain or Shine isn’t ill-equipped on the other end of the floor. Head coach Chris Gavina has Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon to lean for perimeter scoring, while Beau Belga and Norbert Torres take care of business down low. Belga and Torres are averaging 12.5 and 9.0 points per game, so far. Also watch out for rookie Leonard Santillan, whose breakout game could come anytime soon.
This will be a huge test for Rain or Shine’s defense. They defended well overall against NLEX but struggled to contain Kiefer Ravena. This time around, Norwood and Mocon will have their hands full trying to stop a deep and talented cast of Meralco forwards. Take the Bolts to win and cover (-4.5).
I’m expecting a deliberate pace for this game. Take the Under (168.5).