MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE) The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters had their Christmas wish come true, gift-wrapping a decisive and important win over the San Mig Coffee Mixers in Game Three of their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four showdown at the MOA Arena last night.
Working efficiently on defense and deadly on offense, the E-Painters smothered the Mixers, 98-72, to gain the two-game-to-one lead in their best-of-seven semis series.
Smarting from a ruthless a 82-106 defeat in Game Two, Rain or Shine scored an even bigger rout behind a relentless running game anchored on a resolute defense.
"It's a nice gift for us and it’s also a nice way to redeem ourselves from an embarrassing loss the last time. It's the best way to rebound out of that lopsided defeat," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
"I had no special words before the game. I just told the guys let us give ourselves, our families, our friends and our fans a nice Christmas gift," Guiao also said.
The E-Painters thus took command again in the series with a chance to get into the threshold of the finals in Game Four tomorrow, also at MOA.
"For me, Game Four is the biggest game in the series. If we can go up three-one, we have one foot in the door, and the burden of adjustment is on them," said Guiao.
Meanwhile, Talk n Text and Alaska Milk take their turn in breaking their own one-game deadlock at 6:45 tonight, also at the MOA Arena.
Pushing the ball hard, the Elasto Painters built a double-digit spread early at 16-6 and pulled away, 51-32, right at the half.
"The game plan just fell into place. We get the rebounds. And as long as we get the rebounds, we get into open court. We like fastbreaks, we like up-tempo game. That's the objective," said Guiao.
Rain or Shine outscored San Mig Coffee, 10-2, on fastbreak and, 8-2, off turnover points in the first half, and the E-Painters simply cruised through in the final half.
The E-Painters played a well-balanced game, evenly distributing point production and the defensive load.
Paul Lee, Jervy Cruz, Jeff Chan, Larry Rodriguez and Chris Tiu delivered double-digit outputs.
On the defensive end, most remarkable was Rain or Shine’s effort on James Yap with Jireh Ibañes holding down the San Mig star to six after exploding for 34 the last time out.
The Mixers actually wiped out their early 10-point deficit, charging to within one, 17-18, at the end of the first quarter then surged ahead, 21-18, as Marc Pingris and PJ Simon scored the first two baskets in the next period.
The Elasto Painters, however, asserted themselves again late in the second period, uncorking a 17-4 run to enjoy a 19-point spread at the turn.
Returning from the bench, Cruz, Chan and Gabe Norwood teamed up with Tiu in a vicious 10-2 attack to close the opening half.
Tiu checked in with four minutes to go in the second quarter and instantly made an impact, burying a three-pointer then setting up Cruz for an under-goal stab.
Successive defensive stops had Chan and Norwood finishing fastbreak layups in the closing seconds.