E-Painters seek date with history vs Llamados
MANILA, Philippines - There's no talk of destiny nor dynasty, only a simple quest for identity.
And a victory tonight will give Rain or Shine the mark of a champ it has pursued the past six years, giving the Elasto Painters the identity of belonging to PBA's elite circle of winners.
But first, they have to hurdle the B-Meg Llamados in Game Five of the Governors Cup finals although all signs point to a season of the Rain.
"You might think it's over, but it's not. Anything can change in a second if they (Llamados) are able to come back strong and go on a roll," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
The E-Painters actually enjoy three cracks at the crown and they intend to wrap it all up in their 6:45 p.m. faceoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The series underdogs, the E-Painters have turned things around with a remarkable performance in the last two games minus injured ace playmaker Paul Lee, taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven titular showdown.
Guiao has guaranteed their championship as early as Game Two after losing Lee to injury. Now on the threshold of the victory, Guiao wants his team to be cautious and not to fall into a false sense of security.
The Llamados, meanwhile, remain hopeful of living for another day although they're not looking far ahead.
The Commissioner's Cup champs need to win three-in-row to salvage rare back-to-back crowns.
In PBA best-of-seven finals, only one team has been able to climb out of a 1-3 hole and steal the championship. Ginebra San Miguel did the feat against Shell (curiously the franchise taken over by Rain or Shine in 2006) in 1991.
"The only one that's not thinking this series is over is our players. They have great resolve. They've shown their character throughout the whole season and they won't disappoint their fans now," said B-Meg coach Tim Cone.
Cone stressed, though, they can’t think of anything at the moment except Game Five.
"The bottom line is we've got to go out and win Game Five. We can't look beyond Game Five," said Cone.
"I think we've got to put some pressure on them. Right now, they're playing pressure-free. They've got a future after Game Five. We don't," Cone also said.
The Llamados have gained some relief with Marc Pingris spared of suspension though his flagrant foul penalty 1 was upgraded to penalty 2 by commissioner Chito Salud. Pingris was meted a hefty fine of P20,000.
But how can B-Meg stop Rain or Shine? The Elasto Painters are now 5-1 over the Llamados in the tourney, winning the last two sans Lee.
The E-Painters have beaten the Llamados in a close game and in lopsided fashion. The former has had a successful run though dominated by the latter in rebounds.
"Rebounding is still our problem. We're just trying to focus on the adjustment they're trying to make," said Guiao.
NOTES: The PBA will have a special guest for tonight's game in NBA Fil-Am champion coach Eric Spoelstra. The Miami Heat bench chieftain will be given a special plaque at the half of tonight's game. Earlier, he'll serve as guest of honor in the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the re-opening of the newly renovated Smart Araneta Coliseum Green Gate. In his third visit in the country, Spoelstra is also scheduled to attend some practice sessions of Smart Gilas Pilipinas.