MANILA: GRACE B. CASTILLO
Published — Thursday 20 December 2012
Last update 19 December 2012 9:41 pm
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.