MANILA, Philippines—Rain Or Shine was not about to let history repeat itself — again — on Wednesday, as the Elasto Painters finally notched a breakthrough triumph over San Miguel Beer in their semifinals series in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Rain Or Shine had lost big leads in the first two games of the series, with the Beermen overhauling a 13-point deficit in Game 1, then rallying back from a 29-point hole in Game 2 in what was the biggest comeback in the league a decade.
In Game 3, Rain Or Shine built an 18-point lead in the first half, proceeded to lose all of it thanks to the hot shooting of Chris McCullough, but made all the big plays in the end to seize a 112-104 triumph.
"We just didn't wanna lose today, I guess," said Rain Or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, who commended his players for their gritty stand.
The Rain Or Shine players said that the win showed they've learned from what happened in Games 1 and 2, when they faltered in the face of San Miguel's comeback attempts.
"Wala na, natuto na. Dalawang laro, enough na 'yun," said Beau Belga, who hit the dagger three-pointer with 11 seconds left that iced the win.
Gabe Norwood agreed, saying: "I mean, I like to think we’re just learning from our mistakes."
A big part of this was limiting their turnovers. Rain Or Shine's carelessness with the ball had fueled San Miguel's comebacks in their first two games; in Game 2, for instance, the Beermen scored 29 points off 17 turnovers.
That problem reared its head again in the first half, when Rain Or Shine's 15 turnovers led to 15 points for San Miguel.
Garcia said this was the crux of his speech to the players at halftime.
"I think we just have to learn how to take care of the ball. When we led by 18, turnovers na naman ang naging problema namin. That's the only thing I addressed noong halftime," he said.
"I just told them, if you wanna win the game, you have to man up and, you know, don't turn the ball over, because San Miguel is so good. When you turn the ball over, they score every time."
After committing 15 turnovers in the first half, the Elasto Painters only had 2 more the rest of the way, a big reason for their win.
"First half, 10-15. Sabi ko sa mga kasama ko pang-isang buong laro na 'yung 15 na 'yun, eh sa first half lang natin ginagawa. Tapos nu'ng second half, medyo nag-relax kami, 2 turnover lang," noted Belga.
With the result, Rain Or Shine remains alive in the semifinals, and Norwood believes they can only play better from there.
"I mean, the pressure's off us, you know," he said. "They say the hardest game to win is the closeout. So for us right now, we’re just gonna go out, play loose, continue to trust each other and see what happens."
Game 4 is on Friday at Araneta Coliseum.
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