Rain or Shine is keen to bag the crown when it faces Alaska in Game 6 of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals at 7 p.m. tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.
After suffering back-to-back defeats that spoiled their celebration, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao admonished his wards to remain focused and confident
“I’m still optimistic of our chances,” Guiao told The Manila Times. “Nobody’s giving up despite the huge disparity in free throw attempts compared to the other team [last game]. We will make some adjustments and I still believe we can win the title.”
The Aces got 23 out of 27 free throws while Rain or Shine got eight out of 11 awarded free throws. “It [Game 5] still a defensive game, but the number of their free throws makes a lot of difference. Anyway, we’re matured enough to adjust in Game 6,” Guiao added.
After winning Game 1 (105-97), Game 2 (105-103) and Game 3 (112-108), the Elasto Painters lost twice against Alaska – a 99-111 defeat in Game 4 and 78-86 setback in Game 5.
A win by the Aces in Game 6 would tie the series and force a winner-take-all Game 7.
“We are in a position that we wanted to be, we worked very hard to be here. If we don’t win the title, it is very painful. We’ll do our best,” said Rain or Shine power forward Beau Belga.
Jeff Chan, the Elasto Painters’ left-handed guard who averaged 12.2 points in the last 22 games, said he expects import Pierre Henderson-Niles to dominate the shaded area after a sluggish performance in the last two games.
“I’m hoping he dominates the paint in Game 6,” said Chan. “Pierre is doing all the best he could.”
Henderson-Niles had a measly 4.5-point and 6.5-rebound average in the last two games.
Besides Chan, Belga and Henderson-Niles, prolific point guard Paul Lee, Jericho Cruz, Jewel Ponferada, rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, Jay-R Quinahan, Gabe Norwood and Jireh Ibanez are also expected to lead the charge.
The Elasto Painters aim to end a four-year title drought since winning their first PBA crown in 2012 Governor’s Cup.
Alaska’s former best import Robert Dozier said he is confident the Aces would sustain a high-level game. “I believe, yes of course. It is possible to happen. We just need to take one game at a time. We were in our elements in the last two games and we just need to continue it,” Dozier said.
Dozier, who didn’t play in the elimination round because of a minor foot injury, had an average of 23.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.6 blocks per game during the championship round.
Best Player of the Conference Calvin Abueva, who had an average of 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in five games of the championship round, will lead the Aces anew together with Dondon Hontiveros, Sonny Thoss, Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul and Cyrus Baguio.
Alaska coach Alex Compton, however, remains cautious of their foes.
“It doesn’t change my opinion against Rain or Shine. In the last two games, it was more the team that I know and I just want us to play that way,” he said.