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PBA: E-Painters near crown

After the heartbreak at home, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is finding some solace at his place of work.

Guiao lost his bid to retain his seat in Congress but found immediate comfort last night after the RoS Elasto Painters came up with their most devastating form in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals against the Alaska Aces before coasting, 112-108, and taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Rain or Shine guns for a sweep and their second franchise championship tomorrow, with the Aces standing on the wrong side of history, a fate they sought to befall San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup finals early this season.

Alaska built a 3-0 advantage over the Beermen in the championship, an imposing no PBA team has ever squandered in its 41-year history. But the Aces managed to do just that, losing the next four games and putting an ironic twist in the wretched state they are in right now.

Only a fightback of epic proportions as the one SMB conjured against Alaska can save the Aces now.

Relief didn’t come smoothly till the end, though, for Guiao, who failed to keep his post in the House of Representatives as congressman in the first district of Pampanga.

After building a seemingly unassailable 27-point spread in the third quarter on the strength of their superior play in the middle periods, the E-Painters lost grip of the reins and were outscored, 36-17, in the fourth, with the Alaska coming within four points before time ran out.

“Buti na lang malaki ang lamang naming,” said Guiao. “We lost the ball and then we lost mental focus. We really didn’t finish well but it’s still a win. We have one foot on the door but San Miguel coming back from 0-3 will be on our minds on Friday.”

Known for making bold guarantees with the series on the line, Guiao passed up on making one this time.

“It will just put unnecessary pressure on the players,” he said before joking, “I’ll guarantee it after Friday.”

RoS’ 15 triples tied an all-time Finals high by SMB in the 2001 Governors’ Cup and Petron in the 2013 Governors’ Cup.

“A most dominating first half for us,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.

Tucked in the shadows in Games 1 and 2, RoS forward JR Quinahan claimed some spotlight in the second quarter by hitting two 3-point shots during a 9-2 run halfway through that gave the E-Painters a 49-39 lead.

Back-to-back 3s by Chris Tiu and Paul Lee against the Alaska press made it 57-42, underscoring the Aces’ dilemma in trying to stop Rain or Shine’s penetration, inevitably leaving open shooters in the corners.

It was 58-42 on Pierre Henderson-Niles’ free throw although it was Quinahan, 4 of 12 from the field in the first two games, who opened floodgates by going 5 of 7 for 13 points in the first half.

Never letting up from their torrid shooting in taking a 2-0 lead in the series, RoS hit 8-of-17 three-pointers and 58 percent overall (22 of 38), making the Aces pay for attempting to impede its running game by ratcheting up the transition and finding the open man.

RAIN OR SHINE 112 – Quinahan 18, Cruz 17, Henderson-Niles 11, Lee 10, Norwood 9, Belga 8, Tiu 8, Ahanmisi 7, Almazan 7, Chan 6, Ibanes 6, Ponferada 5, Nimes 0.

ALASKA 108 – Dozier 23, Abueva 20, Banchero 15, Jazul 14, Baguio 9, Hontiveros 9, Thoss 7, Exciminiano 5, Baclao 4, Dela Rosa 2.

Quarters: 28-28; 62-47; 95-72; 112-108