PBA: Rain or Shine eyes 3-0 lead vs Petron
MANILA, Philippines — Rain or Shine tries to more or less put away the first championship series slot in the PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup Saturday when the rampaging Elastopainters battle Petron Blaze at Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is 3:30 p.m. with the Painters—who were swept in four games in the Finals here last season by Talk ‘N Text—seeking to erect a historically impregnable 3-0 wall against the beleaguered Boosters.
No team in the rich history of Asia’s first play-for-pay league has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, and the Boosters certainly wouldn’t want to become the first to try, making this game a must-win for them.
“2-0 is a good place to be at this point,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “But we can’t celebrate. We need two more wins to reach the Finals.”
Rain or Shine is the hottest team in the tournament, winning a 10th straight game overall on Wednesday by coming back from as many as 16 points down in the first half to post a 101-94 decision.
Petron had control of that game for most of the night, until the Boosters went cold in the final 8:02, about the same time June Mar Fajardo almost lost his cool for the second straight time that game.
“Playing physical, you have to be mentally into it,” Guiao explained after the game. “June Mar (Fajardo) is the focal point of the Petron offense and he must be ready to take the brunt of the physicality.”
Fajardo almost came to blows with Larry Rodriguez with the Boosters still leading, 85-78, in an incident that fired up the whirlwind Rain or Shine rally that had the Painters winning with plenty to spare.
Paul Lee, the former Rookie of the Year, has been the bane for the Boosters, creating match-up problems in his spot by dominating his counterparts.
The winner of this series will advance opposite the victor of the Barangay Ginebra-San Mig Coffee semifinal pairing, which is tied at 1-1.
The impressive thing about the Rain or Shine dominance in this series is the way Guiao has been able to get big contributions from rookies Alex Nuyles and Raymond Almazan.
Both played critical roles in their first two victories, with Almazan stepping up big in the fourth period by firing 10 of his 15 points there.
Almazan’s last quarter output helped Rain or Shine drop 36 total points in the fourth quarter of that game.
“Raymond played like a veteran. He looked like he was 250 pounds out there,” said Guiao of his reed-thin center.
Petron, on the other hand, continues to rely on its old hands like Fajardo, reigning MVP Arwind Santos, Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter. Alex Cabagnot, however, hasn’t been much of a presence and the Boosters need him to step up to the plate and offset Lee’s contributions on the other end.