YENG Guiao knows Rain or Shine is bound to get smaller with Gabe Norwood injured, so he hopes to get a boost from his other players in Game Two of their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series against Alaska on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Norwood sprained his ankle while trying to defend Cyrus Baguio early in the fourth period of Game One and, without the 6-foot-5 forward to hound him, Alaska import Henry Walker got some breathing space and carried the Aces to a 97-93 win in the series opener.
“When Gabe got injured, we got smaller with our matchup with Walker (Alaska’s import). That’s the time Walker was able to string a couple of baskets that were crucial,” Guiao pointed out.
Walker strung up 14 of his game-high 31 points in the final period, mocking the defense thrown at him by shorter defenders Ryan Arana and Jireh Ibanes.
Guiao said with Norwood likely a game-time decision, they will have to find ways to plug the hole in the paint in the 6 p.m. game.
“Gabe should be the best matchup for the import, pero kung wala siya, of course, Jireh is there, but he’s the backup, not the main defensive assignment for Walker,” he added.
The Painters also hope to play much steadier down the stretch to secure the game. They led for majority of the game, before uncharacteristically faltering into a maze of turnovers inside the final three minutes.
“We got killed by our own turnovers,” rued Guiao.
Meanwhile, Alaska coach Alex Compton noted that although winning a series opener is a huge step, taking the series is not easy especially against a top team such as Rain or Shine.
“At least our guys know we can win against this team (Rain or Shine), so for confidence, that’s good,” said Compton, whose team has won its fifth straight game dating back to the eliminations.
“I am young at this (coaching) job, but I’ve been in basketball long enough (to know) that in this series, no one wins the series by taking Game One,” added the Philippine-born American coach.
“It (win) was important for our confidence, but in the overall scheme of things, ang 1-0, di ganun kahalaga.”