MANILA, Philippines—There's no reason for Rain Or Shine to push the panic button despite losing back-to-back games to the Magnolia Hotshots in their 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.
This, according to veteran guard James Yap, who spearheaded the Elasto Painters' stirring fightback in Game 4 of the best-of-7 series before falling short in the final possession.
Yap scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the booming three-pointer that made it a one-possession game, 92-89, with 34 seconds left to play. The Elasto Painters came as close as one point, 92-91, before Jio Jalalon hit two free throws to make it a 3-point lead.
Rain Or Shine still had a chance to tie the game with 3.1 seconds left, but Yap's attempt from behind the arc hit iron as time expired.
The veteran guard stressed that he felt good the shot that he took.
"Basta ang nasa isip ko ngayon, no regrets. Basta naitira ko nang maayos," he said. "'Yun 'yung naglalaro sa isip ko, na di na maibabalik kung mintis. Pero alam ko naman na naitira ko nang maayos."
Their 94-91 loss meant that Magnolia has now tied their best-of-7 semis series at two games apiece. Rain Or Shine won the first two games, but has struggled since then. They fell behind by 21 points in the second quarter of Game 4 before making a last-ditch rally.
The Elasto Painters will try to regain control of the series on Wednesday's Game 5 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
"Wala pa namang time mag-panic," Yap assured. "Naka-all lang sila. It all boils down to best-of-3 na."
Yap also pointed out that in clawing their way back from a huge deficit, the Elasto Painters wore down Magnolia and bolstered their own confidence.
"Siguro, ’yung morale ng team medyo mataas naman dahil hindi kami natambakan. Noong natapos ang game, lumaban pa, muntikan pa mag-overtime. So magandang laban ito this coming Game 5," he predicted.
"Naunahan kami, slow start kami, buti nakabawi kami noong bandang fourth quarter. I'm sure, kinabahan din sila doon."
The good news for Rain Or Shine is that Yap appears to have gotten his bearings after a slow start to the series. He had scored a combined 22 points in the first three games of the series, including only six points in their 85-74 Game 3 loss.
"Na-realize ko na masyado akong gigil," said Yap. "Parang every time na tatanggap ako ng bola, gusto ko gumagawa ng paraan kaagad. Parang hindi ko hinahayaan na 'yung game 'yung dumating sa akin. Kumbaga, mas gusto ko na ako yung naghahanap ng game. So medyo nakakasira."
"Kaya 'yung for this game, nag-relax ako. Hinayaan ko dumating 'yung game sa akin. So far, noong sumugod naman, okay naman," he further explained. "Sana next game, ganoon pa rin."
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