PBA: Rain or Shine finishes off Petron to earn Finals berth
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters banked on their pressure defense to overturn the streaking Petron Blaze Boosters, 97-88, and end their best-of-7 semifinal series on Friday, February 7, barging into the Finals of the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup in full force.
Playing sans head coach Yeng Guiao, who was suspended after two consecutive ejections, Rain or Shine played an inspired and intense fourth quarter to suck the air from a deflated Boosters squad.
"Making it to the Finals especially without coach Yeng makes this special," said Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who held the fort for the Painters in this game.
"The players really wanted to win the game today."
After playing a lackluster first half allowing 31 first quarter points to Petron, Rain or Shine tightened up their loose defense and came out in the third looking dead set on finishing off Petron.
"Sabi ko lang sa players (I just told the players), come second half, we have to be more aggressive on defense. We're playing good offense but the defense wasn't there, we were giving up too many lay-ups," Garcia said.
"We were able to stop that and our shots started going in."
The Painters denied the easy baskets that Petron had cherrypicked in the first half and packed more fuel than Petron on the break en route to collecting 17 fast break points.
Rain or Shine finally balanced out their offense with splendid second half defense and limited Petron to just 17 and 19 points in the third and fourth periods, respectively.
Despite playing better, however, Rain or Shine still couldn't pull away as Petron doused water on every rally the Painters' threw their way.
It was only in the fourth that Rain or Shine finally stayed ahead for good.
Paul Lee, who poured in 16 points and hit a perfect 6-of-6 from the stripe, hit his free throws with 3:27 remaining to extend their lead to 6, 86-80.
Lee later made it a 10-point game on the break with 1:42 to play, 93-83.
But it was Player of the Game Beau Belga who supplied the momentum-shifting and-one play with 2:34 remaining to put the Painters up, 89-80. After that Petron seemed too dismayed to mount a comeback and was unable to execute plays in the face of the Painters' lockdown defense.
Belga led the Painters with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Jeff Chan contributed 17 points and 9 boards as well.
Rain or Shine only allowed Petron one game, 4-1, in their series and will now await the winner of the San Mig Coffee-Ginebra series. This is Rain or Shine's second consecutive Philippine Cup finals appearance.
On the other hand, the loss is a painful final chapter for the Petron Blaze Boosters as the franchise will revert back to its San Miguel Beermen name come the mid-season Commissioner's Cup.
2013 PBA MVP Arwind Santos led the way for Petron with 20 points and 13 boards, while June Mar Fajardo registered 16 markers and 16 rebounds.
As of posting Santos is leading the Best Player of the Conference race while Fajardo is at third, following Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar at second, who, if his team makes the finals, may have a supreme chance of overtaking Santos.
Rain or Shine 97: Belga 18, Chan 17, Lee 16, Arana 10, Norwood 9, Rodriguez 8, Cruz 6, Quinahan 5, Tang 4, Almazan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Teng 0, Ibanes 0.
Petron 88: Santos 20, Kramer 18, Fajardo 16, Kramer 8, Cabagnot 8, Hubalde 6, Tubid 5, Ross 4, Lutz 2, Taha 1.
Quarter scores: 22-31, 45-52, 72-69, 97-88