Rain or Shine, Talk ‘N Text grab victories to start Final Four series

Updated 19 December 2012
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Rain or Shine, Talk ‘N Text grab victories to start Final Four series

Yeng Guiao didn’t dare come up with predictions after this one, he just said something close to one.
“This is just one game,” Guiao said, moments after his Rain or Shine crew worked hard in pounding out a 91-83 decision of San Mig Coffee last night for a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Final Four series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Never mind if the Elasto Painters looked dominant in controlling practically all departments of the match and breaking away in the latter part of the third quarter to win pulling away.
“It’s still too early, this is a seven-game series,” Guiao said. “But if you win the first game, you have a close to 70% chance of winning the series. You want any kind of edge you can get in this kind of situation.” Jeff Chan finally worked his way out of his slump and exploded for 13 points in the first period and finished with 18 points with Paul Lee and Larry Rodriguez shooting 15 each.
This Final Four matchup is special since this is a repeat of the Governors’ Cup title series that the Painters won in seven games.
In that series, Guiao predicted a Rain or Shine victory despite losing Lee to a dislocated shoulder shortly before the Game 2 buzzer and a 2-0 lead.
The Painters appeared to have the number of the Mixers as far as Game 1 went and their defense held the usually prolific duo of Peter June Simon and James Yap to a combined 23 points.
Yancy de Ocampo led the Mixers with 17 points and Marc Pingris added 14, but the strange thing about Game 1 was that the towering frontline of San Mig lost the battle of the boards, 48-46.
Rain or Shine also played better as a team, moving the ball well on the way to 20 assists, and coupled with the rebounding department win, Guiao said he has reasons to be very happy.
“Our biggest concern coming into this game was rebounding and I think we’ve done well in that department,” Guiao said. “We just needed to work harder than they did to at least equalize off the boards.” Also taking a 1-0 lead was defending champion Talk ‘N Text, which got a huge three-pointer from Ryan Reyes with 14.3 seconds remaining for a 66-65 decision of hard-fighting Alaska.
Reyes drilled a wide-open triple off a Jason Castro feed with just two seconds left on the 24-second shotclock and the Tropang Texters then botched the potential game-winning play by the Aces.
Tony dela Cruz a veteran who showed immaturity in the last Alaska play, elected to take a hurried long jumper under heavy pressure with still a lot of time left on the clock, dooming the Aces.
Alaska actually had a 65-61 lead with 2:34 to go only to go scoreless the rest of the way.
“This is what (champion) teams are made of, you have to win games like this,” coach Norman Black said. “This is a very difficult win for us. I am happy because we ground it out. It became a defensive struggle and that’s what normally happens in the playoffs.” Grind it out was putting it mildly, as the Texters, seeking to become the first team in 30 years to win the all-Filipino title three straight seasons, were held to their lowest output of the season.
The combined scores of both squads was also the lowest in the tournament.


Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

Updated 44 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

  • Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
  • Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru

Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.

Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)