ANTIPOLO –A 105-102 loss against TNT KaTropa somehow felt like a win for Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia on Sunday heading into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
After all, the Elasto Painters overcame an early 16-point deficit as well as the absence of Duke Crews due to a second technical foul the ROS import picked up midway through the third quarter, to engage the taller Texters in a nip-and-tuck battle in the endgame.
“We’re just looking at the positives,” Garcia said. “Going into the next round, this was a good game for us, we played without an import most of the second half, the locals showed lots of character and despite us being a smaller team against TNT, we were not outrebounded.”
“And the important thing is the show of character going into the next round,” he added.
After Crews went out at the 6:51 mark of the third quarter, ROS erased a double-digit deficit behind James Yap and even took the lead momentarily in the payoff period, 98-97, after a triple by Jeff Chan with exactly two minutes to go.
The E-Painters also grabbed 55 rebounds, just three less than the Texters’ haul.
“As long as we play the same way today, I think we can beat anybody naman,” Garcia said. “Yun naman sinasabi ko sa players ko na we always have to think of the positives, we always have to think that we can beat anybody.”
“Ang problema we don’t know what position we’ll be in until Friday so basically we just have to work until Friday and see who we’ll play next,” he added.
The E-Painters, who finished the eliminations at 5-6, are in sixth spot and could stay there in a best-of-three matchup against the third seed, but could drop to seventh or eighth with a twice-to-win disadvantage against either the top two seeds.
“If we end up at number seven or eight, we just have to think that we lost game one game,” Garcia said. “If we end up best of three good, for us kasi ‘di ka pwedeng pumili ng kalaban. Every team is very tough for us.”