Game Today (Smart Araneta)
5 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine (Game 5)
Manila, Philippines – Maybe the Alaska Aces could provide the Smart Araneta Coliseum with extra mop men for Game 5 this afternoon – just to be sure. That would be less strenuous than trying to restrain the hot-tempered Henry Walker.
Or keeping Rain or Shine center Beau Belga from getting too close to the basket.
Tied at 2-2 in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup semifinals, with Game 4 decided under bizarre circumstances Friday, the Aces and the Elasto Painters clash in a do-or-die in the best-of-5 series at 5 p.m., the winner advancing to the championship against whichever team emerged from Friday’s sudden death between San Mig Super Coffee and Talk ‘N Text.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao knows how close they got to getting shut out in the cold.
“We got lucky,” he said. “We didn’t imagine it’s gonna be this difficult. We got a bit of a lifeline. I think we just have to win in different ways.”
The E-Painters won despite failing to put away the import-less Aces in regulation, and after nearly letting victory slip from their fingers in overtime, 123-121.
Walker was banished with six minutes remaining after being assessed a flagrant 2 foul for hitting Paul Lee on the nape with his elbow, sending the RoS point guard to the floor clutching the back of his head.
Guiao felt the ejection was long in coming.
“That import deserved the ejection long ago,” Guiao said. “Dapat nung binangga niya si Beau [early in the series], that also deserved an ejection. Kung ibabato mo ang katawan mo sa isang tao…it’s good Beau was also a 200 pounder. What if it was [Raymond] Almazan, or [TY] Tang or [Paul] Lee? I don’t think there’s a weight class here. If your throw your whole weight to a person who has his back to you, I think he’s a menace to the league and he’s a big bully.”
It’s unknown at presstime whether the PBA will throw the book at the volatile Walker (16 points). But if he dodges a suspension, he will be back to pick up from where left off – battling RoS’ Arizona Reid (32 points, 15 rebounds) on equal terms this time in Game 5.
Keeping him on a short leash will be Aces coach Alex Compton main concern, other than putting a defender in the face of Lee (21 points, 5 of 9 3-point shots) and Jeff Chan (3 of 6 triples) at all times and a wide body between Belga (21 points, 10 rebounds) and the goal, especially in the closing seconds.
Belga’s twisting banked shot from up close provided the marginal points in overtime after Alaska playmaker Jayvee Casio, breaking home for an unconstested layup in the preceding play, slipped in frightening fashion as he was about to take off.
The venue mop man, when accosted by the Aces coaching staff, insisted he had wiped dry the area where Calvin Abueva had gone down a few seconds ago.
Apparently he had missed a spot.
At any rate, Casio’s knee condition, as well as that of Gabby Espinas, who twisted an ankle, will be critical for the Aces as they seek to finally slay the ghost of a 51-point loss to Rain or Shine in the elimination.
But Alaska may have had its best chance Friday. Game 5 today could be Rain or Shine all the way.
Unless the Aces could slow down AZ Reid and Paul Lee, while staying away, as well, from wet spots on the floor. (Tito S. Talao)