One Game At A TimeBy Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
WITH B-Meg’s 85-80 win in Game 2 last Wednesday, the PBA Governors Cup Finals is now a series.
As always, the team that lost Game 1 makes the adjustments while the winner will stick to the formula that carved out the first win. In Game 2, the Llamados glided more cohesively on the floor, avoiding any more collisions with the Rain or Shine defenders who were roadblocks to the basket in Game 1.
The raw emotions of the bruising first encounter were not around this time. In Rain or Shine’s series opening win, the Llamados were thrown off by the Elasto Painters’ rugged defensive stand. No easy baskets, no uncontested rebounds seemed to be the marching orders for the first-time finalists. It was distracting and frustrating to the Llamados, who like to keep their options flowing while executing Tim Cone’s version of the triangle offense.
The finals is now a best-of-five series and the supreme test will now be mental toughness. The Elasto Painters drew first blood in the finals by showing all and sundry that they were not merely tyros but had the fortitude to withstand the pressure cooker. The youthful Elasto Painters now know that a win in Game 1 or two previous wins against the same opponent don’t necessarily spell a championship. It will have to be a long, arduous grind which is probably how this series will go.
On the other hand, B-Meg has rediscovered its championship poise and will use it to the hilt in the upcoming close games, a trademark of most PBA finals.
The coaches’ word war will now simmer down, unless Cone or Yeng Guiao need an alarm clock or electric jolter to wake up their teams. Comments on officiating have already been hurled and unless new ways of expressing dissatisfaction can be created without upsetting the league, the series will roll along with the basketball regaining its due attention.
But let’s face it: the spicy and not just juicy comments of the coaches have added interest to a series that may have not had any other angle aside from a champion team going against a first-time finalist. Cone and Guiao are veteran mentors who know how to do the pre- or postgame interviews to rev up their teams or comment on the officiating.
Can’t blame the PBA Press Corps if they scribble a little more furiously on their note pads or punch laptop keys faster when these two coaches hit the mike in the press room. Guiao and Cone’s comments are more interesting than the usual “defense did it for us,” or “I credit our players for the win tonight” kind of lines. The finals no doubt bring out more pointed and colorful comments because the coaches also have raw emotions to deal with.
There will be no more chair-flinging as Cone promised but there will be a whole lot more engaging championship basketball in the series that remains.
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