IT seemed it was Rain or Shine that was staring at a huge deficit with how its players looked on the bench late in the third quarter.
The Elasto Painters just couldn’t wait for the game to end as they ran through the motions before hacking out a 112-108 victory on Wednesday night at the Smart-ARaneta Coliseum to move on cusp of ruling the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Everything seemed to fall for the E-Painters as they broke loose midway through the second quarter and maintained a sizeable double-digit cushion that ballooned to 27 points, enough cushion to avert a late collapse as they took Game Three for a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Finals series.
“Buti na lang malaki lamang namin,” Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “We really didn’t finish this game well, but we still won and that’s what’s important.”
“We have one foot inside the door,” he added.
Counting its historic foldup in the Philippine Cup Finals, Alaska has now lost league-record seven successive games in a championship series. The previous record was five by Shell from 1988 to 1989, according to chief league statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
JR Quiñahan and Jericho delivered off the bench to lead the balanced attack of the E-Painters, who gifted Guiao a victory after the ROS coach lost in his reelection bid as Pampanga first district representative last Monday.
The E-Painters can give their veteran coach with another triumph on Friday where they seek to close out the series and win their second league title.
The E-Painters looked headed for a blowout win as they built a 95-68 lead late in the third quarter, before the Aces mounted a fightback that saw them pull within four points after outscoring their opponents, 36-17, in the final frame.
But that was the closest the Aces got as they moved a loss from unfortunately affirming their tag as perennial bridesmaids.
Pierre Henderson-Niles tallied 11 points, 13 boards, and flashed his underrated passing skill with five assists, while Paul Lee added 10 markers and three assists in 16 minutes off the bench.
Rob Dozier tallied 23 points to lead Alaska, while Calvin Abueva added 20 markers, but was hobbled by foul trouble and fouled out with over four minutes left in the game, forcing the local star to stay on the bench when his team was in the middle of their run.
The E-Painters were still trailing, 37-35, when they banked on a 23-5 run in the middle of the second quarter to erect a 15-point halftime lead that sparked their dominance in the middle quarters.
Rain or Shine 112 – Quinahan 18, Cruz 17, Henderson-Niles 11, Lee 10, Norwood 9, Belga 8, Tiu 8, Ahanmisi 7, Almazan 7, Chan 6, Ibanes 6, Ponferada 5, Nimes 0
Alaska 108 – Dozier 23, Abueva 20, Banchero 15, Jazul 14, Baguio 9, Hontiveros 9, Thoss 7, Exciminiano 5, Baclao 4, Dela Rosa 2
Quarterscores: 28-28, 62-47, 95-72, 112-108