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PBA: San Mig guns for 3-1 lead

by Waylon Galvez

Manila, Philippines – It’s a tantalizing prospect but it’s something San Mig Super Coffee coach Tim Cone is willing to embrace.

After beating Rain or Shine Wednesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series, Cone and his Coffee Mixers are looking at a possible third straight victory tonight and in so doing perhaps put the Painters in a hole where only one team in the history of the PBA has climbed out of.

“It’s hard to imagine that we can beat Rain or Shine three times in a row,” said Cone yesterday prior to the Mixer’s practice at the Ronac gym in San Juan. “But that is our challenge going into Game 4 of the Finals and we’re certainly going to take it on.”

The Mixers cemented the momentum carried over from victories in Game 2 and 3. Rain or Shine won Game 1 on a Hail Mary-play with 1.3 seconds left.

For the Elasto Painters, tonight’s game may as well be the most important of the series. A 1-3 hole in a finals series is almost like a death sentence. Only one team in PBA history has come back from that deficit and won. That was Ginebra beating Shell in the 1991 First conference.

“We were lucky to escape with a win in Game 3, but we need to be more than lucky (in Game 4),” said Cone, who is also aiming to break a tie with retired coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan for most PBA titles. Both have 15 titles each.

“We need to be a lot more solid to beat a team like Rain or Shine. So far our defense is holding up and we need to continue with that,” added Cone.

The Painters had a chance of taking Game 3. Faced with nearly the same situation when they won Game 1, the Painters tried to devise a play to steal the victory with 10 seconds left.

But luck was not on their side as Jeffrey Chan missed on a three-point attempt and San Mig escaped with a 77-76 victory.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, however, remains optimistic.

“We’ve lost the initiative. Though it was a one-point game (loss), it could have gone either way. It was decided by the breaks. The adjustment advantage is gone, and we just have to work doubly hard to get back into the series,” said Guiao.

“We’re disappointed, but we’re not discouraged. I’m not really discouraged because I know at a certain point we could just have broken the game away. We learned our lesson on that and we just have to take that lesson into Game 4.”

The Painters hopes may be boosted by the possible return of point guard Ryan Araña who missed game 3 with a sprained ligament on his left shoulder.

For Yeng, though, the most important is for them to play solid defense and to control the rebounding department after the Mixers won the rebounding battle for the third straight game, 49-39.

“We have to get the rebounds, which can lead to fast break opportunities. We’ll have other opportunities. The good thing about it is that if we can keep the series longer I still feel we can come out the winner in this series,” he said.