TNT, ROS Eye 2-0 Leads

After taking Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series Wednesday, Yeng Guiao, the Rain or Shine coach, felt it too early to make any predictions. Tim Cone, his San Mig Coffee counterpart, may have thought otherwise, on the other hand.

While Guiao was walking briskly toward the press room for the traditional post-game interview after the Elasto Painters baffled the Mixers in the opener of the best-of seven playoffs, 91-83, Cone was making his way to the parking lot in apparent disgust, bypassing their dugout for the comfort and privacy of his car.

Unfortunately, Cone was caught up in the congestion going up the Big Dome's basement parking and may have had to endure the sight of several Rain or Shine players having their pictures taken with fans right beside his vehicle.

Cone couldn't be faulted for giving a hint of the great odds San Mig is facing against a team that dealt them a Game 7 defeat in last season's Governors' Cup Finals.

Not only was San Mig destroyed in mismatch situations, the Mixers also struggled to find a solution to Rain or Shine sophomore guard Paul Lee, who had 15 points with Larry Rodriguez behind the 18 of the resurrected Jeff Chan.

Lee was a nightmare all evening long, even to the league's most aggressive defender, Marc Pingris.

The Elasto Painters also took the rebound edge, 48-46, with Jervy Cruz, who at 6-foot-3 is dwarfed by San Mig's Yancy de Ocampo, Rafi Reavis and Joe Devance, collaring 15 nonetheless.

Rain or Shine's defense also held San Mig hotshot James Yap to 3 of 13, with the two-time MVP limping to the bench near the end with a strained left knee, and the hustle factor was practically non-existent for the Mixers.

"Natakot ako kasi parang biglang nag-lock e," said Yap.

Still Guiao wouldn't hazard a bold guess the way he did when he audaciously announced in Game 2 of the Governors Cup Finals against then B-Meg, after Lee went down with a dislocated left shoulder, that the championship was in the bag for them.

"We'll win the title with or without Paul Lee," Guiao had guaranteed then, never wavering even after the Llamados had dragged the series to a seventh game.

The multi-titled coach found no need for such brash assurances this time.

"It's too early for that," he said while at the same time pointing out that 70 percent of the teams that win Game 1 go on to take the series.

"We want to have that edge, any kind of edge," said Guiao.

Cone and the Mixers could be pushed near the edge if they fail to avert falling into a 2-0 hole.


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