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PBA: RoS levels series

Jeff Chan against Tony Dela Cruz

Game Today

(Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
5 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Talk ’N Text

Rain or Shine stood its ground despite a furious rally by Alaska last night as the Elasto Painters ran away with a 102-95 win and tie their best-of-seven series at 1-1 in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

It was a total reversal from what had happened in the series-opener Thursday when Rain or Shine blew a 17-point lead when Alaska unleashed a big run on the final six minutes on its way to an 87-80 win.

ROS adjusted well on its mistakes in Game 1 by lessening its turnovers to only 13 this time as compared to 19 in the previous game.

In contrast, Rain or Shine forced Alaska to a conference-high 25 turnovers that ROS mentor Yeng Guiao’s team translated to 17 points as compared to Alaska nine points off the Painters’errors.

Rain or Shine was able to have another strong start when it grabbed a 21-point advantage early in the third period (57-36) despite not having Guiao the entire first half.

Assistant coach Caloy Garcia said Guiao was caught in a monstrous traffic jam on his way to the arena.

“When he arrived at halftime, sabi nya ituloy ko na lang. But during the second half nagsasabi na din sya sino papalitan. It was a total team effort, we’re lucky to get the win. Now it’s a best-of-five,” said Garcia.

“We put up a lot of effort in the beginning. In Game 1 we were up but we were erratic. We nearly blew the lead again, so that’s one field we have to look at,” added Garcia as Game 3 is set tomorrow at the same venue.

Alaska rallied back when it trimmed the deficit to just five points twice – the last at 82-87 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

However, Paul Lee buried back-to-back three-pointers that sandwiched a basket from Vic Manuel, giving Rain or Shine a 93-84 lead with 6:32 left in the game. Lee matched his Game 1 shooting of 3-of-13 from the field.

The last time Alaska threatened was when Cyrus Baguio nailed a trey, 92-97, with 1:22 to play, but Gabe Norwood split his free throws and after a missed by Alaska, Lee converted a pair from the foul line to make it 100-92, 24.8 seconds remaining in the game.

Jervy Cruz led ROS with a double-double output of 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Jonathan Uyloan tied a career-best 18 points, while Norwood and Lee scored 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Erin Menk led Alaska with 18 points, while Manuel added 17 points, both off the bench.

Meanwhile, top seed San Miguel Beer guns for a 2-0 lead in its semifinal series against Talk ’N Text when they clash in Game 2 today at the MOA Arena.

SMB used a bid second quarter blitzkrieg as it outscored TNT, 23-9, to turn a 20-27 deficit to 53-36 lead at halftime break. The Beermen led by as many at 33 points late in the game, 101-68.

The victory of San Miguel against its rival team was the team’s biggest win in the playoffs since a 106-73 triumph over Rain or Shine in Game 3 of last season’s Philippine Cup.

As for Talk ’N Text, it was the franchise’s worst loss in the playoffs since a 104-81 defeat at the hands of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the series-opener of the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.

PBA’s reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, who collected 23 points and 10 rebounds, will be again the driving force in San Miguel’s bid to make it back-to-back wins on TNT in the series.

SMB came into Game 1 fresh from an eight-day break, and rust wasn’t an issue as Coach Leo Austria’s team shot 37-of-81 (46%) from the field, while holding TNT to only 24-of-72 (33%). The Beermen also controlled the boards, 56-39.