MANILA, Philippines—A fresher Rain or Shine doused all San Mig Coffee’s attempts of a comeback and went home with a masterful 83-74 victory and a commanding 3-1 series edge in the semifinals Thursday in the 2012 PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elastopainters never relinquished their lead nor had been in a deadlock, and had the answer to each of the Mixers’ dangerous runs in game four—and it was easy to point out the defense as the difference maker.
“It became a defensive game, I have full trust in my team to play defense,” said head coach Yeng Guiao, who is a game away from taking his squad to the finals for the second consecutive season.
“It’s a big win because we now have three chances to make the finals, [but] our plan is to finish it off on Saturday,” Guiao added.
When the Mixers brought the Elastopainters’ lead—which went to far as 18 points early in the third quarter—down to 62-66 midway the fourth, Ronnie Matias came up with crucial basket to power his squad back into a more comfortable gap.
“Matias just hustled his way to being the best player,” said Guiao of his forward who had eight points and eight rebounds in a commendable group effort. “This is how this team is built, we cover for each other.”
A wide open trey by Jeff Chan off a pass by Gabe Norwood made it a 75-65 lead again, but San Mig Coffee did mount another run with under two minutes to play and pulled within three points.
This time, it was rookie Chris Tiu who steered the Elastopainters out of harm’s way with six straight buckets—including a steal plus a fast break layup with under a minute to go that sealed the victory.
Norwood topscored 14 points, Ryan Arana had 13, Chan 12 and Tiu 10 to lead Rain or Shine—which is playing with a less worn out rotation this best-of-seven series compared to that of San Mig Coffee.
The Mixers are exhausted with guys playing beyond stretched minutes on the court, like James Yap who only rested for six minutes the entire game and finished with 20 points, three rebounds and steals.
And the Elastopainters are hoping to pounce on that.
“We are fresher, sharper at this point. ‘Di na namin pababayaan ‘to,” finished Guiao, who hopes to wrap up the series on Saturday at the same venue.
Rain or Shine 83 – Norwood 14, Arana 13, Chan 12, Tiu 10, Matias 8, Cruz 6, Belga 6, Rodriguez 4, Quinahan 3, Ibanes 3, Lee 2, Tang 2.
San Mig Coffee 74 – Yap 20, Simon 15, Devance 14, Pingris 7, Ramos 5, Reavis 4, De Ocampo 4, Barroca 3, Gaco 2, Villanueva 0.