“It’s really a battle out there,” Guiao said yesterday after preparing his Rain or Shine crew for a fightback from the worst loss of their partnership against San Mig Coffee. “The Christmas spirit will only matter before or after the game.”
The Elasto Painters and the Mixers break their 1-1 tie in the PBA Philippine Cup’s Final Four at 5:15 p.m. today at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay with Rain or Shine and Guiao still licking the wounds of a 24-point, Game 2 loss.
“We don’t plan to give anything in any way or whatever manner,” continued the mercurial drillmaster. “After losing big in Game 2, we prepared very hard for Game 3. Winning is a matter of pride for this team.”
The Painters, easily the most physical squad in the league under Guiao after he took over close to two years ago, lost their focus Friday night and were nowhere near the fearsome side that they were in the series opener.
Guiao has never lost as big as he did with the Painters before Friday, and he could only scratch his head while watching the rout from the press room for most of the second half after being ejected for continuous complaining.
“The first thing we want to do is to regain our mental toughness,” Guiao said when asked of what could be the key to Game 3. “We gave in to our frustrations in Game 2 because of the breaks of the game.”
Paul Lee was the biggest missing entity for Guiao in the second game, held to a mere seven points and five assists in 23 minutes despite a hot start.
The entire squad went cold together with the former Rookie of the Year, with Larry Rodriguez and JR Quiñahan’s 12 points proving enough to lead the Painters in scoring.
And while Guiao did single out their loss of focus as the culprit, he may have to devise something to stop former two-time MVP James Yap from again dominating.
The 6-foot-2 gunslinger rattled off seven triples on the way to a season-best 34 points and together with Marc Barroca, Joe Devance and Peter June Simon, scored just one point less than the entire Rain or Shine total.
“We need to stay in the game mentally, and at the same time, not let loose their shooters,” Guiao said. “James Yap played his best game of the season.”
This is the second straight conference that Guiao is playing Tim Cone and the Mixers in a playoff series, and Cone knows that this could be a pivotal outing for both squads.
The winner of this series will advance to another best-of-seven affair against the winner of the Talk ‘N Text-Alaska matchup for the title.
That series is also knotted at a game apiece after JV Casio and Calvin Abueva proved unstoppable in a 100-88 Game 2 win. The third game is slated tomorrow also at Mall of Asia Arena.