Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are now on the verge of sweeping the Alaska Aces after a crucial Game 3 victory, 112-98, to post a commanding 3-0 lead in the Oppo – PBA Commissioners’ Cup Finals Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After being locked at 28 at the end of the first canto, Rain or Shine went on a scoring assault spearheaded by Jericho Cruz and JR Quiñahan to build a 15-point cushion entering the half, 62-47, that pretty much dictated the tempo until the final quarter.
Quiñahan finished with 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc while Cruz added 17 points and 6 rebounds. Import Pierre Henderson-Niles patrolled the paint well for the E-Painters with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
On the other hand, Rob Dozier continued his Finals brilliance after punching in an all-around effort of 23 markers, 8 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocked shots for the Aces but still not enough to hand them their first win in the series.
The Aces will need to win all the remaining 4 games to snatch the series away from Rain or Shine.
Calvin Abueva finally regained his form with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists but their defense as a team did not hold up to Rain or Shine’s relentless attack.
ROS even led by as many as 27 points, 95-68, late in the 3rd quarter but the Aces tried to stage a daring comeback in the 4th where they inched to as close as 4 points, outscoring the Elasto Painters, 36-17.
Coach Yeng Guiao, who lost his re-election bid as Pampanga representative, got a consolation with the win and the specter of the franchise’s 2nd championship.
Rain or Shine will try to finish off Alaska in Game 4 to clinch the franchise’s second championship while the Aces will somehow look for a perfect antidote to finally counter their Finals woes and create a “milk-racle” of their own and salvage their Commissioners’ Cup season. — By John Bryan Ulanday