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PBA: Painters force Game 7

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

Paul Lee and Jericho Cruz steal the ball from TnT's Jayson Castro during PBA game 6 Finals action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.   Photo by Tony PionillaThe PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals has reached a point of no return, a one-way road to perdition, a Game 7 to climax the most turbulent championship series in recent league history.

Painted into a corner in the last two games of the best-of-7 showdown, Rain or Shine fought back to deny Talk ‘N Text a crowning Game 6 celebration last night, 101-93, forcing a winner-take-all that is almost guaranteed to surpass the viciousness and brutality by which battle had been waged by both teams from Game 1.

The Tropang Texters and the Elasto Painters “play for all the marbles” – as Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said after tying the series – on Wednesday also the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Wayne Chism and Raymond Almazan each had 18 points, with Almazan setting the tone with 11 in the first quarter, and Chism taking care of business with 8 in the fourth. Paul Lee kept the E-Painters steady with 10 of his 16 points in the second period when ROS went on an 18-2 run to open a 54-38 lead, while Gabe Norwood hit the biggest 3-pointer of the evening when TNT came back from 16 points to within 82-79 with 7:51 remaining.

“Give ourselves a chance, that’s all we wanted,” said Guiao. “We tried to spread the defense, sustain the offense, keep the pace fast and our rotation fresh. We should be fresher going to Game 7 and we hope that makes a difference.”

Guiao credited their team defense and the willingness of shooter Jeff Chan to play through a painful right foot (plantar fasciitis).

“Jeff was in pain but asked to make a contribution to show the rest of the team that even in pain, he wanted to help the team,” said Guiao. “Gabe (Norwood) also gave us a big boost and Almazan had another excellent game.”

TNT absorbed a terrible beating under the boards, 59-45, with Chism grabbing 24 and Almazan 10. ROS also dominated the paint, 46 points to 28 and bench production, 77 to 31.

TNT coach Jong Uichico, who said after Game 5 that the Texters needed to play with a “sense of urgency” to keep momentum from shifting to ROS, saw the effort put up by his team but conceded thoughts of a Game 7 may have been in their minds as well.

“We might have wanted it done right away, and sometimes things don’t go your way,” Uichico said. “We came out with the effort. It’s just that Rain or Shine came out with more.”

That may have been a subtle nod to his import Ivan Johnson, who sat out most of the third quarter with four fouls and finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds. Johnson spent the evening shooting 2 of 9 from the field and going after, ROS backup guard Chris Tiu and every other E-Painters player.

Already responsible for knocking a front tooth from Lee in Game 2, Johnson sent the ROS star to the floor with an elbow to the jaw in the first half and a hand in the face late in the game. He also went after Tiu after the E-Painters playmaker broke up a TNT fast break play.

Guiao took game officials to task for failing to call a harsher foul on Johnson.

“What do you need to do to get a flagrant foul call on Johnson?” he said. “Sino maniniwala na bola ang habol niya kay Paul? He was two arms length away from Paul’s face. At saka bakit niya hinabol sa Chris? Fighting stance na yon, di ba? Anong nangyayari? Anong kalokohan to? The guy is mentally unstable and a menace.”

RAIN OR SHINE 101 – Almazan 18, Chism 18, Lee 16, Chan 11, Cruz Jericho 10, Quinahan 9, Tiu 7, Norwood 6, Ibanes 3, Arana 3, Uyloan 0, Belga 0.

TALK N’ TEXT 93 – De Ocampo 21 Castro 17, Washington 14, Carey 13, Fonacier 11, Johnson 6, Alas 4, Williams 4, Rosser 3, Aban 0.

Quarters: 23-18, 54-42, 76-71, 101-93