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PBA: Texters gun for sweep

Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier

Game Today (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Talk ‘N Text

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are never going to wave the white flag of surrender. Still, with the recent spate of injuries that hit them, it’s probably flying at half-mast.

The limping E-Painters hope to extend the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals to a Game 4 even as rumbling Talk ‘N Text guns for a sweep of the best-of-5 series tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Gametime is 8 p.m., with the Tropang Texters looming unstoppable after taking the best of what Rain or Shine could offer in Game 1 (91-85) and 2 (94-87).

The former saw Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and TNT import Richard Howell drawn into a late-game altercation after botched calls by the referees, which resulted in Guiao getting fined P30,000, while the latter was less controversial.

“We’ll try to end this Friday,” said TNT coach Norman Black after his team went up 2-0 Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome. “But we’re not thinking sweep, just taking it one game at a time. We have a goal in mind and that is to reach the championship.”

Ranidel de Ocampo finished with 20 points, Jayson Castro had 19, Kelly Williams 14 with 13 rebounds, and Jimmy Alapag 14 points with four three-point shots.

Howell, however, just had 12 points and 11 rebounds, numbers Black feels the import has to improve on.

“My job is to try to put my import in a better position to score,” said Black, who paid tribute to Rain or Shine’s resilience and grit after the E-Painters stayed in the game despite the absence of import Wayne Chism for more than half of the game.

Chism landed awkwardly on his left foot during a rebound play and twisted his knee. He crashed to floor and grimaced in agony before getting helped to the bench. Team insiders had suspect a torn ligament.

Their fears were confirmed later when Chism was diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL injury and ruled out of the series.

The latest mishap brought to four Rain or Shine’s hobbled players, with Chism joining Jr. Quinahan, Chris Tiu and Jervy Cruz, all with knee injuries.

Guiao is determined to give Game 3 their best shot, with or without Chism.

“He wants to play, but the doctor told him he can’t,” said Guiao. “But we’re not discouraged; it’s not in our character to give up easily. We had a chance to win Game 2 even after Chism got injured, but they (TNT) were awarded too many free throws.”

Former import Arizona Reid, Guiao said, is awaiting word to jump on the next plane to the Philippines once Rain or Shine succeeds in extending the series. Game 2 of the series between San Mig Super Coffee and Air21 was ongoing at presstime, with the Express holding a surprise 1-0 lead. (Tito Talao)