MANILA, Philippines – Four months since transferring to San Miguel Beer, guard Ryan Araña admits it’s still unusual playing opposite his old team Rain or Shine, especially in the playoffs.
“It still feels weird,” the 32-year-old admitted in Filipino following the Beermen’s 103-94 Game 5 win over the Painters in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals. “But this is work. I have to do this and if there is any elbowing or physicality, that’s probably normal in basketball.”
“Coach Yeng (Guiao) can curse me and it would be alright,” he added with a chuckle. “I was kind of expecting him to curse me but it didn’t happen.”
Araña played for Rain or Shine for 8 years since the team (then named Welcoat Dragons) drafted him 12th overall in 2007. He then landed at San Miguel in September via a 3-team trade before the start of the season. The former De La Salle Green Archer has since been adjusting to the system of a champion team under head coach Leo Austria.
Araña came through for the Beermen in the crucial Game 5 victory against his ex-team, scoring a series-high 8 points on top of 5 rebounds and 3 assists off the bench in 27 valuable minutes on the floor.
His jumper with 6:23 left in the fourth quarter Wednesday, January 13 gave San Miguel its biggest lead of Game 5, 94-78, as they coasted to the victory after breaking the game open in the final frame.
(READ: Fajardo’s burden lessesns as Beermen manage balanced offense)
“I have long since adjusted to coach Leo’s system. Maybe this game is a breakout game for me,” said Araña, who was grateful the coaching staff and management continued to trust him despite going scoreless in the last 3 games of the series.
“I’m happy because they have long been waiting for me to explode. I’m happy I was able to help the team especially since we really needed that win. I hope it continues on to Game 6.”
Araña’s conference-high performance was a 9-point, 3-rebound game in a win versus NLEX in the elimination round. He hopes to provide more support for the Beermen, who lead the best-of-7 series 3-3 and are seeking to enter the finals for the 3rd time in 4 conferences.
Alaska, the antagonist to San Miguel’s two championships last season, is already through to the finals after defeating Globalport in 5 Games.
Game 6 of San Miguel and Rain or Shine’s series is on Friday night, January 15 at 7 pm. – Rappler.com
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