MANILA, Philippines (2ND UPDATE) – Halfway there.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters were at their best on Sunday, April 19, as they dominated from start to finish in their physical and critical game 3 win over the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters, 109-97, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine played tough and confident. On both offense and defense, Coach Yeng Guiao’s crew was nearly flawless in their execution by forcing Talk ’N Text out of their rhythm with swarming defenders and getting quality open shots on the other end of the court.
Rain or Shine entered their finals against Talk ’N Text having lost their last 7 postseason games against the Tropang Texters.
After losing game one, the Elasto Painters won two straight and are now two wins away from their first PBA championship in nearly 3 years.
“We really played fantastic defense tonight. We can attribute this win on our team effort,” says Guiao. “We were determined to come into this game and make it difficult for them to execute their offense. This victory was brought about by just elevating our level of play in terms of defense.”
Talk ’N Text shot a paltry 39% from the floor and 32% from downtown. Best Player of the Conference candidate Jayson Castro followed up his 44-point effort with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, but shot just 8-of-21 from the field and committed 4 turnovers.
Ranidel de Ocampo put up 16 points and 11 boards but missed 11 of his 15 shots.
Import Ivan Johnson led Talk ’N Text with 30 points and 14 rebounds but was bothered by multiple Rain or Shine defenders all game.
In the third quarter, his drive to the rim was halted by Paul Lee, who tried to draw a foul and in the process sustained an accidental elbow on the face from the import.
Lee instantly fell to the floor as a tooth dropped from his mouth. Two more of his teeth were displaced due to the collision, but Lee returned to the game and finished with 17 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds to lead the Elasto Painters along with Wayne Chism, who was superb with 31 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
“Paul Lee lost a tooth but we won the game so it’s still okay for us. The series is getting physical and we just want consistency with the calls. I hope the referees don’t let it get out of hand,” said Guiao, who added he was disappointed with the lack of flagrant fouls called on Talk ’N Text and excessive ones called on his team.
“Wayne Chism also showed his class,” Guiao said during the post-game press conference. “He just outplayed Ivan Johnson in this game today. So that’s another thing that contributed to our win tonight – Wayne Chism played probably his best game all-around. Best game all-around. So that was a big help.”
Rookie Jericho Cruz played stellar in 19 minutes, finishing with 14 points. Jeff Chan shot only 3-of-12, but contributed 12 points and converted a backbreaking jumper at the third quarter buzzer that made the Rain or Shine crowd at The Big Dome erupt.
“Just the same as the last game: we just gave them too many points,” Talk ’N Text head coach Jong Uichico said following the loss.
“We scored enough points to win a game, but we just gave up too many points.”
The Elasto Painters built their double-digit lead by coming out the more resilient squad in the first quarter: getting to loose balls faster, playing suffocating defense that resulted in bad shot attempts for their opponents, and quality ball movement that led to a 15-3 lead.
Talk ’N Text kept chipping into the deficit little by little and were down only 6 at the half thanks to a buzzer beater from Kevin Alas. But Rain or Shine reclaimed the momentum to start the third period thanks to jumpers by Lee and Chism.
In the fourth period, a couple of threes by De Ocampo and another one by Larry Fonacier – who finished with 16 points – trimmed the Elasto Painters’ lead to 13, 98-85, with a little over 6 minutes to go in the game.
Off a time-out, a gorgeous pass by Chan awarded the cutting JR Quinahan an open layup to halt the bleeding. After getting a stop, Rain or Shine put the Tropang Texters out for good with a three-ball by Cruz.
“Our philosophy of trying to spread out the minutes, trying to spread out the responsibilities, is paying off. I think we’re fresher than they are at this point,” said Guiao, whose team became the first one in the last six PBA Finals to score more than 100 points in back-to-back games.
“We did not notice any adjustment with their defense so we just went with what worked for us.”
Game four is on Wednesday, April 22.
RAIN OR SHINE (109) – Chism 32, Lee 17, Cruz Jericho 14, Chan 12, Quinahan 9, Norwood 6, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Almazan 4, Cruz Jervy 2, Tang 1, Ibanes 0, Arana 0.
TALK N’ TEXT (97) – Johnson 30, Castro 20, Fonacier 16, De Ocampo 16, Alas 8, Rosser 5, Washington 2, Carey 0, Williams 0, Aban 0.
Quarters: 32-26, 52-45, 84-65, 109-97
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