MANILA, Philippines — Rain or Shine and defending champion Talk ‘N Text can celebrate the coming year with a little peace of mind.
Going into the New Year revelry, both the Elasto Painters and the history-seeking Tropang Texters have 3-2 leads over separate foes in the PBA Philippine Cup’s Final Four, and both will have something extra to celebrate compared to their opponents.
The series doesn’t resume until Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay with the Painters taking the floor against San Mig Coffee at 6:45 p.m. as they take the second of three chances they have to make a second straight Finals appearance.
Rain or Shine took a 3-1 lead last Thursday with an 83-74 conquest of the Mixers only to be stopped on Saturday with a 12-point loss even with James Yap out for majority of the second half because of foul trouble.
Talk ‘N Text, meanwhile, surged to a similar lead on Sunday with a 99-95 nipping of hard-fighting Alaska, moving the Tropang Texters within five more victories of becoming the first squad to win the all-Filipino conference three straight seasons.
Not since defunct Crispa in 1982 has a squad dominated for so long in the All-Filipino, and the Texters will be trying to do it with old personnel being handled by a new guy in veteran Norman Black.
Rain or Shine is also chasing a bit of history as the Painters seek a crack at winning a second straight PBA title. The Painters won the Governor’s Cup last season, also against the Mixers, 4-3.
And right now, San Mig coach Tim Cone could be spending the final hours of the year about to pass on how to defeat the Painters a second straight game, and for the second straight time, take their series with the Painters into a deciding game.
“They beat us two straight games, I don’t see a reason why we can’t also do it,” Cone had said after the Game 5 win.
Black, meanwhile, said that he will savor the four-day break for his boys, whom he described as ‘older’ compared to their Alaska counterparts.
“We are the older team, it might help us more,” Black said as Game 6 of their series is slated Jan. 4 at Cuneta Astrodome, also in Pasay. “It gives us a chance to recover a little bit.
“They (Aces) are a much younger team than we are,” he said. “I am looking forward to the rest, and get some of my players to heal some of their injuries.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Araña has been named Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period Dec. 24 to 30 after helping the Elasto Painters rack up back-to-back wins.
The southpaw guard was doing it all in the semifinals—scoring, assisting, swiping the ball—while trying to shackle Yap and PJ Simon.