MANILA, Philippines – The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have now lost to Barangay Ginebra twice in the span of four days.
They dragged the Gin Kings to a grueling triple overtime ordeal last Friday, eventually falling 92-100 in a defensive grind. On Monday, they faced off again – this time in Game 1 of their best-of-3 quarterfinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Once more, the Elasto Painters came up short. After going toe-to-toe with the Gin Kings in the first three quarters, they ran out of steam in the payoff period, and Ginebra took the 88-80 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
"We just lacked effort," Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia said bluntly after the game. "We came in soft."
The coach expressed his disappointment at how hesitant the Elasto Painters were in the game, passing up shots and making poor decisions that led to turnovers.
"(We gave up) too many offensive boards for Scottie (Thompson) and then Joe (Devance)," Garcia also pointed out.
Indeed, it was an offensive rebound by Devance that essentially iced the game for Ginebra. The veteran beat every other player to the rebound after a Japeth Aguilar miss, and scored an easy bucket for a 78-86 count with just one minute and 23 seconds left.
"I think we know what to do," said Garcia. "But I told the players, hindi naman kami ang naglalaro – sila."
"So the effort should come from the players," he stressed. "I think we have to be a little bit more physical."
Rain or Shine veteran Beau Belga also stressed that they cannot afford to show the same hesitation that they did in Game 1. The burly big man observed how some of his teammates did not want to take a shot in crunch time, with the ball being passed around the perimeter like a hot potato.
"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, 'Sayang 'yung pina-practice niyo na araw-araw na shooting kung ipapasa niyo 'yung mga free shot'," said Belga. "Ako, naman, talagang paki-alamero ako. Kapag may panira ako, titira ko."
"Kung bibigyan tayo ng 50 three-points next game, bakit hindi niyo itira?" he added. "Hindi mo alam kung ano 'yung shu-shoot eh. Pero pag nag-hesitate ka, lalo kang babagsak. Mawawalan ka ng kumpiyansa."
Both Garcia and Belga are adamant that the series is not over, and are confident that they can shock Ginebra on Wednesday's Game 2. After all, they have already proven they can hang with the Gin Kings; it is now just a question of finishing them off.
"We just have to fight hard," said Garcia. "Hindi naman kami bibitaw."
"Alam namin sa sarili namin na kaya namin 'yung Ginebra," said Belga. "This game, we just came out flat. (But) it's going to be a good one sa Wednesday."
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