(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska
Even after two failed attempts to close out the finals series following two straight defeats, Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao isn’t pushing the ‘panic button’ as he expressed confidence on his team winning the championship against Alaska in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Alaska has so far dodge the bullet twice, winning back-to-back ‘do-or-die’ games that kept the title hopes of the Aces, with RoS lead in the best-of-seven showdown cut to 3-2.
But the veteran Guiao isn’t on a panic mode.
“We’re still in a good place,” Guiao told a group of sportswriters after the game Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “We have two chances to win a title, and we’ll still keep making the adjustment.”
“We will make full use of that advantage (to adjust) until we get it right,” added Guiao, who has opted to cancel his and wife Jenny’s flight to London to be with their children after their eldest daughter Cecilia Therese finished her master’s degree in International Relations at Cambridge.
Rain or Shine jumped to a quick 3-0 advantage in the series following victories in Games 1 (105-97), 2 (105-103) and 3 (112-108).
However, the Aces denied the Painters of a sweep in their finals affair with a stunning 111-99 triumph in Game 4 last Friday. Alaska followed it up with a gritty 86-78 win in Game 5.
With the two wins, Alaska is now two wins away from doing what San Miguel Beer did to them during the Philippine Cup finals.
Down 0-3, the Beermen humiliated the Aces as they won the next four games to become the first team in PBA history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three matches.
Known for his predictions, Guiao made another bold statement of giving the franchise its second championship – and first since steering the team to the 2012 Governors’ Cup title.
“I’m still very positive we will win this championship,” said Guiao.
“I will not dare make any more predictions… except that at the end we will win this one.”
“You have to claim it at this point – this championship. If you do not make that mental resolve, you can easily lose your momentum. I told the players that Alaska has the momentum, but it does not mean that they can run over us and totally take over that momentum,” he said.
“They’re still in a bad place, and we’re still in a good place. We still have two chances to win this championship. They still have to beat us twice, we only have to beat them once,” added Guiao.
For them to be able to end the series, Guiao mentioned on his team to play smart basketball as he made special mention on Alaska’s free throw shooting the last two games – 27-of-41 in Game 4 and 23-of-27 in Game 5.
In comparison, Guiao pointed to his teams 11 free throws in Game 5.
“If you look at the stats, both Game 4 and Game 5, Alaska was given too many free throws. The discrepancy was just too big (in Game 5) It was a close game. The score doesn’t reflect how close the game was, so the free throws mattered a lot,” said Guiao.
“If we can minimize giving that many free throws, maybe we can finish that off on Wednesday,” Guiao said, adding that they would seek clarification to Commissioner Chito Narvasa about the officiating.
As for Alaska coach Alex Compton, he said that he expects Game 6 to be tougher compared to the previous two, knowing that Rain or Shine will try to avoid a Game 7 on Friday.
But if the Aces play with the same intensity – especially on defense – Compton is positive they can extend the series to a winner-take-all seventh game for a chance to win a championship.
“If this one was hard, I expect the next one – Game 6 – to be harder. It’s not just going to be easy,” said Compton.
“They have a great coach in Coach Yeng Guiao, and they have two days now to prepare. I expect them to have adjustments, and we just have to be ready to play.”