By DENNIS G. PRINCIPE
They fervently aimed for it but Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao does not mind missing the chance of getting an outright semifinal seat in the ongoing Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup.
The E-Painters squandered double-digit leads in bowing to the NLEX Road Warriors, 111-106, where a win would have given Guiao and his troops an outright Final Four entry.
“It’s a big disappointment because we really prepared as hard as we can. We did not take them lightly,” said Guiao after Saturday’s game at the Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX prized recruit Sean Anthony had a monster game when he tallied a career-high 37 points and went on a five-point splurge in the final 21 seconds to lead the Road Warriors to that crucial win.
“Nangyayari rin talaga yun. Some players, they get into a zone, they get their confidence, and sometimes, whatever you do, it’s hard to stop them,” said Guiao.
The loss helped the San Miguel Beermen and the Alaska Aces secure the top two spots which meant an outright semifinal appearance for the two squads.
Rain or Shine, which will finish third overall after the elimination phase, will have to content themselves with a twice-to-beat edge against 10th seed Blackwater.
The Dioceldo Sy-owned Elite assured themselves of a first-ever playoff stint by beating fellow expansion team Mahindra Enforcers, 108-99 in yesterday’s game at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Meantime Guiao said he would like to look at the brighter side after that painful defeat to the Road Warriors.
“Maybe it’s good for us not to get too much rest. Kung two weeks kang walang laro, baka naman makasama rin. We don’t know what God’s plan is,” added Guiao.
“It’s going to sharpen you up. “It’s going to get you ready for the bigger games.”
Meantime Alaska and San Miguel will take a long respite as they are set to begin their semifinal campaign on January 4 next year.