Saturday, February 15, 2014

Paul Lee shines in First Date between Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee by Yoyo Sarmenta. BLOG:

You could say Game 1 of the PBA Finals between Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee was like a first date on Valentine’s Day. A first date can be funny and entertaining. It can also be quite awkward.

Yeng Guiao and Tim Cone shuffled with their lineups and used different schemes to outsmart one another. It was hard to cheer consistently for either team.

For the Mixers, their shots weren’t consistently falling, they missed free throws and the 3-in-1 Coffee Mix of Melton-Barroca-Mallari wasn’t nearly as good as they were back in the semis against Ginebra.

Rain or Shine’s fastbreak game, on the other hand, was subdued by the Mixers’ defense. After a heart-pounding seven games in the Manila Clasico semis, Game 1 of the finals had a sluggish start. But boy, did it have a furious ending.

The opening game of the Philippine Cup finals came down to one play.

In the Rain or Shine timeout, Paul Lee told Gabe Norwood to look for him. “When I go for the screen, I’ll slip Gabe!” Lee said to Norwood.

The play was actually designed for gunslinger Jeff Chan to pop out. Jeff was expected to get the ball from Gabe. But Gabe remembered what Lee said. Lee, after pretending to set a screen, darted towards the basket. Gabe found him. Lee was alone. He received the perfect pass. He made the lay-up. It was the game-winner.

Coach Yeng’s play turned out to be a diversion. The coach still drew a fabulous play but his players, in a gutsy manner, somehow made it better.

Just remember Paul Lee’s winning words:

“When I go for the screen, I’ll slip Gabe!”

Valentine’s day is over. Game 1 is over. The first date, which was funny, entertaining and thrilling, is over. Starting on Sunday, the real serious stuff begins. YS

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