MANILA, February 16, 2006
(STAR) Game Today (San Andres Gym, Manila) 3 p.m. Ė Rain or Shine vs. Magnolia Dairy Ice Cream

Magnolia, Rain or Shine clash in deciding Game 5 of title series

MAGNOLIA Dairy Ice Cream eyes a piece of history today when it battles a Rain or Shine squad raring to prove it can thrive in adversity.

Against this backdrop, fans can expect another dramatic finish as the Wizards and Elasto Painters clash in a do-or-die match of their 2006 PBL Heroes Cup title match-up at the San Andres Gym in Malate.

After losing the first two games of the series and nearly being written off, the Wizards weaved their magic in Games 3 and 4 to force a fifth and deciding match in the best-of-5 title series. The Wizards are bidding to become the first team in more than a decade to recover from a 0-2 deficit and win a title series.

Momentum is certainly on Magnoliaís side, not to mention the handicap Rain or Shine will have to hurdle.

The Elasto Painters will play the most important game of the series without their top gunner and this conferenceís MVP, Jojo Tangkay, who was suspended for one game by commissioner Chino Trinidad for committing back-to-back unsportsmanlike fouls in Games 3 and 4.

Without Tangkay, who is the teamís No. 1 rebounder in the series with 8.8 caroms and No. 3 in scoring with 9.6 points a game, the Wizards are favored to win and annex a second crown. They also beat the Elasto Painters the first time they met in the finals two years ago.

Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, however, is likely to use Tangkayís suspension as the teamís rallying point in their bid to win their second straight title and seventh overall in 12 finals appearances.

"This team has pride and character. We will not allow the suspension of Tangkay to spoil our bid. This is the challenge we have to face head on," said Garcia, who insisted the team still has what it takes to win.

The Elasto Painters are hoping to duplicate the feat of the now-disbanded Dr. J squad in 1999 which won Games 1 and 2 before allowing the then pro-bound Tanduay to tie the best-of-5 title series at 2-2. In the end, Dr. J still prevailed.

Although Tangkay will be out of the match, Magnolia coach Koy Banal remained wary of Rain or Shineís offensive arsenal.

"We donít know who will step up big in Game 5 (for Rain or Shine). So weíre really preparing hard. We canít lower our guards," said Banal.

Expected to take up the cudgels for the Painters are Jun Jun Cabatu, JR Reyes, Eugene Tan, Ronjay Enrile and Marvin Origuerra. They must double their efforts especially on the defensive end to limit the production of Magnolia stars Kelly Williams and Arwind Santos.

Williams is averaging 17.2 points and 12.2 rebounds while Santos has a 14.2- point and 10-rebound a game average.

Magnolia also has another threat in RJ Rizada who emerged as the teamís biggest hero in Game 4, with his back-to-back baskets and a defensive gem in the dying seconds propelling the team to a 61-57 overtime win.

The Elasto Painters are also hoping Erwin Sta. Maria, Yuosif Aljamal and Gilbert Malabanan to hit their shots from the outside.

With Williams, Santos, Mark Isip, Jason Misolas and Gerard Jones at the helm, the Wizards outrebounded the Elasto Painters in Game 4, 57-40. The Wizards also held a 46-40 edge in rebounding in the first three games.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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