PETRON Blaze Boosters went back from its old form stepping on the gas early and never looked back to earn an easy 106-73 rout of the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters in Game 3 of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Even with the victory,Rain Or Shine still lead the series, 2-1 of the race to four win affair.
The Blaze Boosters relied heavily on the game-long brilliance of reigning MVP Arwind Santos and playmaker Alex Cabagnot by unleashing a crippling 19-0 run bridging the first two quarters, turning a three-point lead into a 34-12 insurmountable lead and controlled the game the rest of the way.
Boosters coach Gee Abanilla wisely adjusted his game plan by relying on his gunners through quick ball movement and run-and-gun offense, resulting in eight three-pointers that enabled the team to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole.
“It really feels good to finally get our first win in the series. I thought we played well in the second game, unfortunately, we weren't able to finish it off,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
“We made some adjustments, and I’m just happy the guys responded.”
Rain or Shine dominated Game One from start to finish en route to a 103-95 win, before storming back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit en route to a 103-94 victory in Game Two.
The E-Painters, who's franchise-best 10-game winning streak was snapped, managed to come to within 13, 64-77 early in the final period. But without an ejected coach Yeng Guiao on the bench to guide them, the Boosters went to work again and finished them off from there.
Guiao was slapped with his second technical foul in the game for flashing a dirty finger at Arwind Santos, who chased the loose ball in front of the E-Painters’ bench with 1:36 left in the third frame.
Assistant coach Caloy Garcia took over the rest of the way.
Abanilla said the team has finally adjusted to the physical nature of the series, which has caught them off guard during the first two games.
“We knew what to do with this game. It’s really tough. We have to be mentally and physical prepared. We’re just happy for this win,” Abanilla added.
The former FEU standout Santos led the Boosters with 22 points and corralled 18 rebounds and had three trifectas in the game. Cabagnot added 15, while June Mar Fajardo contributed14 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
Beau Belga paced the E-Painters with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Paul Lee, who averaged 14 points in the first two games of the series, had a quiet four points while going 0-for-5 from the field. Jeff Chan, who was also key in game 2,was held by Petron's defense and had no field goal, wounding with only a point. “This win is a big lift for us. Coming into Game Four, we’ll have more confidence,” said Abanilla. “(But) we have to manage our emotions. We don’t want to turn it into something outrageous.” Game Four is set on Monday at 8 p.m. at SMART-Araneta Coliseum with Petron looking to equalize the series.