MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Playing for most of the second half sans head coach Yeng Guiao, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters managed to carve out a victory and escape the Petron Blaze Boosters, 88-83, to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their best-of-7 semifinal series in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup on Monday, February 3 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao was thrown out once again for the second game in a row after two technical fouls. He was assessed his second technical foul at the 6:15 mark of the third for using profane language, forcing his team to try and eke out a win without their fiery leader.
Guiao’s ejection was already on top of Paul Lee being taken out in the middle of the second after he landed badly at the baseline and hurt his ankle.
But luck still sided with the Painters particularly down the stretch.
After a nip-and-tuck affair, a Beau Belga right corner triple–his only points of the game–with 1:53 remaining shifted the momentum and gave the Painters some breathing room, 87-82.
But the Painters had multiple scares in the dying seconds as they held on to the precarious lead and botched free throws and committed turnovers, giving Petron a fighting chance to steal the win.
Somehow, Rain or Shine managed to hang on long enough as Petron couldn’t make something of the opportunities they were given.
“The guys just did not give up,” Guiao said of his wards. “They won this game on their own. I have nothing to do with this victory. They lost Paul (Lee), they lost me but they kept their fighting hearts with them. We beat them against the odds.”
Ryan Araña kept Rain or Shine afloat as he hit crucial shots at important moments and pushing the tempo whenever his team’s pacing dipped. He led Rain or Shine with 12 points, 3 assists and two steals.
Jeff Chan and Jireh Ibañes also added 11 points apiece.
For the first half it seemed that the tables have been turned on the Elasto Painters as they endured physicality and tough calls, eventually stocking up 17 fouls in the first 24 minutes of play. Petron ended up with 24 attempts from the line.
“Any team made of softer character would have folded up,” Guiao remarked.
“We’re closer to our objective but it’s not a guarantee we’ll get there.”
After trailing 48-50 at halftime, Rain or Shine exploited Petron’s off-target outside shooting in the third and build a slim margin, 72-69, heading into the fourth.
The Painters also made up for the 33 turnover points they gave up in Game 3 by securing 21 turnover points off of Petron’s 18 miscues.
Meanwhile, Petron sophomore slotman June Mar Fajardo played heavy minutes to come up with a career-high 27 points and 17 boards. Fajardo, who clocked in 44 minutes, was already dragging himself up and down the court gasping for breath.
“Syempre napagod ako. Madami bumabangga sa akin,” he said. “Robot nga, machine nga nag-overheat, tao pa kaya.” (Of course I got tired. Many players were shoving me. If a robot or machine overheats, what more a person?)
He was also clutching on to his ribs.
“Masakit (It’s painful),” Fajardo said, adding that he will have an X-ray tomorrow, February 4. Though he said he suspects it’s only a bruise.
He explained he was elbowed by JR Quiñahan in the first period and got hit another time by Larry Rodriguez in the fourth.
Bad sprain for Lee
Lee, who was out of the game in the first half, clarified that he suffered from a bad sprain. The 24-year old guard said that with injuries of the same nature, he has no worries because he’s quick to heal.
“Good thing naman sa akin pag dating sa ganitong injury, mabilis naman mag-recover katawan ko,” he told reporters after the game.
“Hindi naman ako nagwo-worry. Siguro makakalaro ako next game.”
(The good thing about me is when it comes to these kinds of injuries, my body recovers quickly. I’m not worried. Perhaps I can already play in the next game.)
In addition, Guiao also said that bigman Jervy Cruz went straight to the hospital right after the game to get his nose checked. He said they think it may be broken after a play late in the fourth when Alex Cabagnot was called for a foul on Cruz, who immediately kept holding his nose. – Rappler.com
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