The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters booked their first appearance in the Philippine Cup finals, dispatching the San Mig Coffee Mixers, 90-83, in Game Six of their best-of-seven semifinals series Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m really glad it’s over, at least for this series,” said a relieved Yeng Guiao after the game.
“It’s either we finish them off in Game Six, or they finish us off in Game Seven. If this series had gone to Game Seven, our chances of winning would be really low.”
Sharpshooter Jeff Chan bounced back from a cold shooting outing in the last game, exploding for 27 points to pace the Elasto Painters, who are in the championship round of the second straight tournament after winning last season’s Governors’ Cup. Paul Lee, who was in the midst of a two-game slump, added 15 points.
“Jeff and Paul came back to life when we really needed them,” said Guiao.
Rain or Shine, banking on fresher legs with a longer rotation, turned on the heat in the second half. After San Mig Coffee posted 52 first half points, the Elasto Painters imposed their will after the break, limiting the Mixers to just 31 points after the first two quarters.
“We had a very simple game plan: to keep running the whole game, keep the pace fast,” said Guiao.
“It worked. I felt that after one, one and a half quarters, they will tire out. And they did tire out.”
A Chan layup pushed the Rain or Shine lead to 11 points, 84-73, with less than five minutes in the game. San Mig Coffee made one last push, answering with a 7-0 run capped by a Peter June Simon layup with less than two minutes left.
But Rain or Shine struck back quickly with a Jervy Cruz three-point play that broke the back of the Mixers with a minute and a half to go in the game.
Simon led the charge for San Mig Coffee, scoring 18 of his game-high 29 points in the first half. But James Yap was once again missing for the Mixers, posting just six points on 2-of-15 shooting from the field. It marked the third time in the last four games wherein Yap was held to below seven points in the series.
“We’re really just lucky that their guys don’t explode at the same time. James was really struggling again,” said Guiao, who will be making his third appearance in an all-Filipino tournament against the winner of the other semifinals duel between Talk ‘N Text and Alaska.
RAIN OR SHINE 90 – Chan 27, Lee 15, Cruz 14, Norwood 10, Belga 7, Quinahan 5, Rodriguez 4, Tang 3, Arana 3, Ibanes 2, Tiu 0, Matias 0.
SANMIG COFFEE 83 – Simon 29, Pingris 15, Devance 14, Barroca 6, Intal 6, Yap 6, Reavis 4, Villanueva 3, Gaco 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarters: 19-22, 48-52, 71-68, 90-83