Guiao: Despite poor play, we could've won

Yielding the opener of their best-of-seven finals series against two-time defending champion Talk ‘N Text Wednesday night for the PBA Philippine Cup title hasn't reduced the belief of coach Yeng Guiao in his Rain or Shine crew.

“I’m still very confident and very positive about our chances,” he pointed out, moments after the Elasto Painters came up short in the stretch and absorbed an 81-87 defeat to the Tropang Texters before a packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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“As badly as we played, I still think we had a chance to win this game in the fourth. As long as we can hang around, we can grind out some wins. The whole series will be a relentless running game for both teams and I’m confident if it turns to a sprinting contest or a running contest, we can win,” he added.

Despite falling into a big 15-33 hole early in the second canto, the Painters methodically clawed their way back and even pulled within 76-79 with still 3:15 left, only to lose steam in the face of the Texters’ indomitable stand.

Guiao, who has already won six pro titles but continues to crave for a breakthrough All-Filipino crown, was quick enough to note what his team badly missed in Game 1.

 “We beat them in most departments but our three-point point shooting was bad. We just didn't shoot well from the outside. There were moments where we could have turned the tide,” he lamented.

Collectively, the Painters went 28-of-81 (34.6 percent) from the field compared to the Texters’ slightly-better 30-of-78 (38.5 percent) clip.

Talk ‘N Text, however, connected 10 of its 27 attempts from beyond the arc while forcing Rain or Shine to miss 17 of its 21 tries.

While Jervy Cruz - who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds - emerged as the team’s anchor especially in the second half, ace gunners Jeff Chan and Paul Lee bore the full brunt of TNT’s suffocating defense, combining for just 21 points on a horrendous 7-of-26 shooting.

The two stars also had their share of costly errors in the stretch, with Lee initially missing a point-blank attempt and Chan turning the ball over.

Guiao couldn't stress hard enough how valuable their usual shooting stroke is in defying the odds.

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“The important thing is that we can connect on our outside shooting. The middle was just clogged and too tight for us. As long as we can balance our offense with a running game and with our offensive rebounding then hit some three point shots, we have a chance. Pero ‘di nagbalanse offense namin kaya nawala outside shooting namin. We also missed some big free throws in crucial times,” he stated.

Game 2 is set this Friday at the MOA Arena, and Guiao appeared to make just a little tweaking on his game-plan, stating: “I think our plan worked. We were able to lessen minutes for their bigs and we were able to force Coach Norman to get out of his normal rotation. I’m not looking na hirap kami sa TNT. This is the finals and both teams will put fierce challenges to each other.”

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