By Jonas Terrado
(Mall of Asia Arena)
6:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine
(Series tied 1-1)
Rain or Shine, a rejuvenated bunch after a bounce back win Thursday, and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel dispute a 2-1 lead tonight in Game 3 of their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters will look to build on their 109-100 victory in Game 2 and beat Ginebra for the second straight time in their game set at 6:30 p.m.
Clutch baskets by Gabe Norwood, import Reggie Johnson and James Yap in the final two minutes allowed Rain or Shine to score the last 10 points and snap Ginebra’s eight-game winning streak dating back to the eliminations.
Coach Caloy Garcia hopes to bank once more on the three players along with Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan and rookie Rey Nambatac, who gave quality minutes in Game 2, in order for Rain or Shine to edge closer toward its first finals appearance since winning the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup title.
But Rain or Shine expects Ginebra to make a quick counter despite seeing its status as the league’s hottest team come to an end.
Ginebra got usual numbers from Justin Brownlee, Greg Slaughter and LA Tenorio but couldn’t get the big shots when it mattered.
Coach Tim Cone hopes to finally have Japeth Aguilar back in action after missing the first two games with a left Achilles injury.
Aguilar, who sustained the injury during Ginebra’s quarterfinal sweep of Meralco, remains day-to-day.
ROS’ victory came hours after team officials expressed interest in representing the country to the Indonesia Asian Games.
The PBA reportedly is set to hold a board meeting next week to discuss not only Rain or Shine’s possible entry to the Asiad but also the plan to tap its former mentor and current NLEX tactician Yeng Guiao to call the shots.
Meanwhile, defending champion San Miguel Beer was trying to close out Alaska last night in the third game of their own best-of-five affair at theYnares Center in Antipolo City.
A victory would propel the Beermen to their second straight finals appearance this season while allowing them more time to get a long breather before the faceoff with either Rain or Shine or Ginebra.
But the Aces were expected to play with a determined effort of extending the series to at least a fourth game on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.