San Mig Coffee is in a very familiar situation. Down 1-3 in last season’s PBA Governors Cup, the Mixers, then known as the B-Meg Llamados came charging back, seizing Games 5 and 6 to forge a winner-take-all Game 7.
The only difference at that time was Rain or Shine proved to be hungrier, winning that sudden death Game 7 to win the franchise’s very first PBA crown since joining the pro league in 2006.
Now, the Elasto Painters, up 3-1 again in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, have three chances of finishing off the Mixers starting on Saturday night at the MOA Arena.
Rain or Shine took Game 1 (91-83), Game 3 (98-72) and Game 4 (83-74) to take that commanding series lead.
Yeng Guiao said they are aiming for no less than a swift death blow for the Mixers when they take their fierce rival once again on Saturday.
But for the Mixers to keep their Finals hopes alive, they need to do a few very important things:
1. Strong start – San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone was right when he told our Spin.ph reporter Karlo Sacamos (@KarloSacamos) that their slow start had been one of the culprits why they are now down, 1-3 in the series.
James Yap, Joe Devance, Marc Pingris and PJ Simon need to take it to the hole and attack the very heart of the Elasto Painters’ defense in Game 5.
2. Ball movement– Joe Devance told me after Game 4 that they haven’t been moving the ball very well, especially in the second half. And even though they made a serious run late in the fourth period, their effort just went for naught as time ran out eventually.
In Game 4, playmaker Jonas Villanueva played 18 minutes but laid a big, fat zero, going 0-of-7 from the field, perhaps, still adjusting after just recently recovering from dengue. But with time seemingly running out for the Mixers, they need his leadership to help sophomore point guard Mark Barroca run the plays effectively.
3. Board control – Rain or Shine won the battle of the boards, 53-46 in Game 3 and 49-44 in Game 4 – and in those games, the Elasto Painters emerged victorious.
Yeng Guiao has emphasized gang rebounding for Rain or Shine. While for San Mig, big men Yancy de Ocampo and Rafi Reavis, who stand 6’7″ and up, need to assert themselves more to help out Marc Pingris who has been averaging 9.5 rebounds in the first four games of the series.
It will be a long, hard climb for the Mixers starting Saturday. But if they could keep these key things in mind, a 1-3 comeback won’t be impossible after all.