Rivals go for pivotal win Mixers-Painters: Too close to call

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star

Game today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

3:30 p.m. – Leo Awards

5 p.m. – San Mig Coffee vs Rain or Shine


MANILA, Philippines - All the hype. All the fight.

The San Mig Coffee Mixers and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are living up to the playoffs billing as a no-holds-barred showdown as they play Game Three today in the PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Consider: The two games dished out so far had a total winning margin of five points with the two teams splitting the two matches, the second ending in extra period.

Such close encounters seem to be the theme of the series.

After two explosive duels, the Mixers and the Elasto Painters dispute the decisive 2-1 lead in a rare Saturday championship faceoff starting at 5 p.m.

“The winner here is the fans. It’s a real treat for the PBA watchers,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, expecting a grind-out battle to the very end of the series.

“Rain or Shine made all the big shots in Game Two and we didn’t respond well - just the opposite of what happened in Game One. Two tough, very close games; I’m not expecting anything less in Game Three,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.

Prior to the action, the PBA will hand out the Leo Awards at 3:30 p.m.

San Miguel Beer behemoth Junmar Fajardo is the top choice for the Most Valuable Player award, and he’s tipped to be joined in the Mythical First Five by Ranidel de Ocampo, Asi Taulava, Jayson Castro and either Mark Barroca or PJ Simon.

Greg Slaughter is a cinch to win the Rookie of the Year plum while Fajardo is also a top bet for the Most Improved Player award.

Others vying for memberships in the Mythical First Five and Mythical Second Team are San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos, San Mig’s James Yap, Marc Pingris and Joe Devance, Alaska’s Jvee Casio and Sonny Thoss, Globalport’s Alex Cabagnot and Jay Washington, Meralco’s Gary David, Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter, and Air21’s Joseph Yeo.

Others to be feted in the annual year-end awards are the All-Defensive Team and the Sportsmanship Award winner.

Then the Mixers and the E-Painters resume their battle that starts from scratch following Rain or Shine’s 89-87 overtime squeaker Thursday at the Big Dome.

The bad news for the E-Painters is that Paul Lee is a doubtful starter for Game Three due to a swollen left ankle.

Also bothered by aching right knee, Lee wasn’t able to join their practice yesterday.

Nonetheless, the E-Painters are expected to stay in the battle with their proven mental toughness and unwavering spirit.

It would be remembered that Lee went down due to a dislocated shoulder in Game Two of their 2012 Governors Cup best-of-seven title showdown with San Mig Coffee. The E-Painters, however, still found a way to win the series.

If ever, the E-Painters would be severely handicapped though with Lee considered the most competent Rain or Shine backcourt player right now who can handle San Mig’s pressing defense.

Lee is also Rain or Shine’s leading local scorer with an average of 13.2 points a game. He also norms 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

In the semis, Rain or Shine missed the injury-stricken Gabe Norwood in two games but still survived to win their playoffs versus Alaska Milk.











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