By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
CURRENTLY holding a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup bracket, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are still not leaving anything to chance and has vowed to continue working and making things happen, especially since the Philippine Basketball Association is to take a break for the Holy Week.
Following their Game Three match today against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the semifinal phase of the season-opening PBA tournament takes a four-day lull for Holy Week observance.
For Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, the break makes the game at hand all the more crucial for them and Magnolia as it could well be a momentum shifter.
“If we can get Game Three with the break, it will be crucial. If Magnolia gets Game Three and the break it will be better for them as they will have more time to prepare and rest their players,” said Mr. Garcia after their 93-80 Game Two win on Sunday.
In Game Two, Rain or Shine once again had the number of Magnolia, controlling much of the game with contributions coming from all directions.
Ed Daquioag exploded for 19 points to lead the Elasto Painters in the victory that handed them the 2-0 series lead.
Big man Norbert Torres had a good start and finished with 17 while Rey Nambatac and Gabe Norwood scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Rain or Shine, which is looking to make it to its first finals appearance since 2016 Commissioner’s Cup where it emerged as champion.
Magnolia in Game Two was led by Ian Sangalang and Robbie Herndon, who each scored 13 points.
Mr. Garcia said key for them is trusting one another even as he underscored that it is still a long series and anything can happen.
“Important for us is trusting one another. If you would remember, in the eliminations we were not using much guys like Ed Daquioag and Rey Nambatac. I just told them to be ready anytime and they have been delivering,” the Rain or Shine coach said.
“It still long series though. Magnolia is capable of coming back and we have to be ready,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the other best-of-seven semifinal pairing, the defending champions San Miguel Beermen were trying to go for a 2-0 series lead over the top seeds Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters last night.
The Beermen took the series-opener, 100-88, on April 13 after showing championship poise and drive, especially in the middle quarters where they made their move on their way to the victory.