By TITO S. TALAO
Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – San Mig vs Rain or Shine (Game 3)
Manila, Philippines – In a finals that has become eerily familiar, about the only thing missing, so far, after Game 2 is Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao making another bold prediction.
Otherwise, the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals is nothing more than a modern day reincarnation of events that happened two years ago during the 2012 Governors Cup championship.
In that conference, Rain or Shine took Game 1 but the BMeg Llamados, forerunner of today’s San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, claimed Game 2 to knot the best-of-7 showdown.
Both teams are back in the finals, and both are tied after two games. Does this ring a bell?
In that Game 2 setback, Rain or Shine playmaker Paul Lee dislocated his shoulder while going for a steal against PJ Simon with less than two minutes remaining and was lost for the rest of the series.
Fast-forward to Friday: Elasto Painters guard Ryan Arana sprained a shoulder ligament in the first quarter while fighting through a pick set by San Mig forward Rafi Reavis and rode the bench till the end. He has been listed as day-to-day going to Game 3 today.
Another Rain or Shine player injured in Game 2. Does that strike a chord?
If history has a script to follow, the Elasto Painters would go up, 3-1.
But that would be putting too much faith on the horse’s ability to get ahead of the cart. That would also pave the way for the harrowing outcome of Games 5 and 6 which allowed B-Meg to force a titanic Game 7 clash. No, for now one has to settle for Game 3 at 8 tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Rain or Shine and San Mig gunning for what could be the pivotal match of the series.
The Elasto Painters took Game One, 83-80, on an alley-oop play drawn by Guiao but revised in a flash by Lee and Gabe Norwood. The Mixers then came back in Game Two, 80-70, as Simon scored 15 points and James Yap and Joe Devance each had 13.
Rain or Shine missed 20 three-pointers and shot just 37 percent from the fl oor in Game 2, numbers the E-Painters will have to work on against an opponent that can easily rely on five players, at least, to post double figures. So about Guiao’s prophecy two years ago after the second game where he famously declared the title in the bag for Rain or Shine only to have San Mig come back and tie the series, 3-3?
The volatile mentor steered clear of any Nostradamus stuff after Game 2 three days ago, realizing perhaps that San Mig, with Mark much improved and the addition of Ian Sangalang, Alex Mallari and Justin Melton, is a far different team from the one they went up against in the 2012 Governors’ Cup Finals.
Also while that B-Meg team had a prodigious import in Marqus Blakely, the E-Painters had the relentless Jamelle Cornley to back up any statement made in the heat of the moment.
So prudence could be the better part of valor this time.
Still, it may be too early to say that no forecast is ever forthcoming, especially since San Mig forward Marc Pingris had come up with one during the semifinals against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The psychic aspect of this unfolding drama may yet reveal itself as the series deepens and the stakes get higher.