Rain or Shine avoids another meltdown vs San Miguel in Game 2
MANILA, Philippines – This time Rain or Shine made sure to get the job done.
After looking in danger of blowing another double-digit lead, the Elasto Painters responded with a strong end to the third quarter and maintained their lead throughout the fourth to beat the San Miguel Beermen, 105-97, in Game 2 of their Philippine Cup Semifinals on Thursday, January 7, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine allowed San Miguel to erase a 20-point fourth quarter lead in its Game 1 loss, but didn’t let deja vu take place even after the Beermen trimmed a 25-point deficit in the second game down to 5 with under two minutes to go.
“It was almost the same story for us all over again, but fortunately for us, it was a different ending,” said Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao after his team tied the series at 1-1. Game 3 is on Saturday, January 9.
“If we’re down 0-2, this series is over,” the 6-time champion coach later added. “Against San Miguel, you really can’t get back from 0-2.”
The Elasto Painters had 11 guys score, led by the 16 points of Jeff Chan who broke out of his funk. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Rain or Shine veteran nailed two 3-pointers late that helped his team maintain its lead.
Rookie Don Trollano also shined with 13 points in 19 minutes, while Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood posted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“Everybody made a contribution, offense and defense,” said Guiao. “The important thing for us was keeping the pace fast to our liking. June Mar [Fajardo] is almost unstoppable but we just need to keep him working.”
After posting 36 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1, Fajardo went off for 38 points and 17 rebounds in Game 2 but struggled from the foul stripe, hitting just 13-of-22 as he was clearly fatigued by the end of the game.
Tiring Fajardo, who played nearly 40 minutes, is a tactic Rain or Shine is fine with, as Guiao believes a longer series favors his team.
“If this series goes to a Game 7, we’re trying to give him hell for 7 games,” he said.
Alex Cabagnot also stepped up for San Miguel with 24 points, while Marcio Lassiter had 13 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists. Arwind Santos posted 10 points but shot just 3-of-12 from the field, with 8 of those attempts from downtown.
Only 7 Beermen got on the scoreboard and just 4 scored in double-figures. As a team, San Miguel shot only 42% from the field and 29% from deep, while Rain or Shine connected on 9-of-25 (36%) from downtown and won the battle of the reserves, 52-36.
Through that, San Miguel still had a shot at another comeback after a Lassiter 3 cut the deficit that was once 59-34 to 63-56 with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
Rain or Shine stopped the bleeding thanks to a Jericho Cruz 3, and extended the lead back up to 73-59 with 1:37 left in the period after Lee nailed a triple of his own.
Late in the fourth, the Elasto Painters seemed to have the victory in hand following Chan’s back-to-back 3-balls which extended their lead to 100-87 with 2:28 to go.
But unsurprisingly, San Miguel answered with a quick 6-0 run in just a little under a minute and a half to cut the deficit to 5, 100-95, after a Fajardo free throw.
On the next play, JR Quinahan was fouled and hit both his charities to extend Rain or Shine’s lead to 102-95. After Fajardo scored another basket, Lee was fouled and made the count 104-97 with 23 seconds left.
After a Beermen time-out, Cabagnot was open from the corner for a 3-pointer but misfired, sealing his team’s defeat.
“I think this game could be a good one for us, if not for some lapses we [had] during the game. It’s hard to recover from 22 points down…,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
“I think we have to watch the tape again for us to have some adjustment [here in the] third game,” he later added.
Rain or Shine (105): Chan 16, Trollano 13, Quinahan 12, Lee 11, Almazan 10, Norwood 10, Ahanmisi 9, Cruz 8, Belga 7, Ponferada 6, Tiu 3
San Miguel (97): Fajardo 38, Cabagnot 24, Lassiter 13, Santos 10, Tubid 7, Lutz 3, Espinas 2, Arana 0, De Ocampo 0, Heruela 0, Reyes 0, Ross 0, Omolon 0
Quarter scores: 31-15, 49-34, 79-65, 105-97 – Rappler.com