ITS back against the wall and on the brink of elimination, Rain or Shine vows not to give up its PBA Governors Cup title without a fight.
Coach Yeng Guiao expects the Elasto Painters to go all out when they clash with the Petron Boosters in Game Three of their PBA Governors Cup semifinals series on Saturday in their bid to live and fight for another day.
Game time is at 6:45 p.m. at the Astrodome, with the defending champions looking desperately to climb out of a huge 0-2 hole.
“We’re not even thinking of that (0-2 deficit). But we’re thinking of specific things we want to do in the game defensively because we know we cannot match up physically against Petron, especially against (June Mar) Fajardo,” Guiao told Spin.ph shortly after the team’s practice at the Reyes gym in Mandaluyong.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, a Gilas Pilipinas mainstay, has turned into a dominant force in the middle for Petron in the race-to-three series.
The season’s top rookie pick is averaging career-highs of 20.5 points and 15.5 rebounds on a high 69.6 field goal percent shooting in 35 minutes of action in the semis.
At this point, Guiao admitted he’s got no definite answer to stopping the Petron rookie giant, but made mention that as long as the depleted Elasto Painters could push Fajardo out of the shaded lane, the team has a huge chance of extending the series.
“All series long, that’s (Fajardo) been a match-up problem for us, so the focus (on Game Three) is to just minimize the damage,” explained the fiery Rain or Shine mentor.
“We will just keep working hard, bodying up on him, keep him off balance, keep him off timing. That’s the only thing we can do.”
Beau Belga, the wide bodied, 6-foot-6 big man of Rain or Shine, already has his hands full trying to contain the 270-pound Fajardo as he averages five fouls in the first two games of the series.
But Guiao is hopeful the return of JR Quinahan could minimize Fajardo’s effectivity inside the paint as he help Belga and undersized big men Larry Rodriguez and Jervy Cruz man the paint.
Quinahan missed Game Two Wednesday night due to an Achilles injury, but will be suiting up in Game Three to spell Belga if ever the national team reserve gets into foul trouble.
Petron rookie coach Gee Abanilla is well aware of Rain or Shine’s ability to come back despite losing the first two games, which is the reason why he has warned the Boosters against falling into a false sense of security with its 2-0 series lead.
“There is a chance they (E-Painters) can come back,” said Abanilla, who steered Petron to a franchise-best 11 straight wins after the Boosters eked out a 90-88 victory in Game Two.
“Complacency is really the enemy for us right now, but if we do things right, we’ll be okay.”
Another win will tow Petron back to the Finals for the first time since the 2011 Governors Cup, which also marked the last time the Boosters won a league championship under then coach Ato Agustin.