James Yap flashes vintage form as Rain or Shine reaches semis
MANILA, Philippines – James Yap couldn’t have picked a better time to play his best game in a Rain or Shine uniform as the Elasto Painters returned to the semifinals for the first time in two years.
The 36-year-old fired 27 points to lift Rain or Shine to a 103-97 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier in their do-or-die quarterfinals game in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday, July 12.
Coming off a 16-point outing in their crucial 113-114 Game 1 loss, Yap buried a career-high-matching 7 triples and helped Rain or Shine avoid being the 4th No. 1 team in PBA history to succumb to a No. 8 squad in the quarterfinals.
The Elasto Painters, who last made the semifinals in the 2016 edition of the mid-season conference, will tangle with the Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-5 semifinals series.
Rain or Shine led by as much as 16 points, 86-70, off a Yap trey before the Batang Pier slowly clawed their way back into the game.
Trailing 88-99 with 1:30 minutes remaining, GlobalPort unloaded a 9-2 spurt, capped by a Stanley Pringle triple, to make it a 4-point game but two Gabe Norwood freebies secured the win for the Elasto Painters.
Reggie Johnson finished with game-highs of 29 points and 15 rebounds to go with 6 assists while Raymond Almazan chipped in 16 markers, including 3 straight buckets that gave Rain or Shine a commanding 97-84 cushion.
Norwood made his presence felt for Rain or Shine with 7 points and 15 rebounds while Chris Tiu added 12 points, 3 assists and two rebounds.
Pringle, clobbered by Norwood's defense throughout, still finished with team-highs of 23 points and 8 assists to go with 5 rebounds and two steals.
Rain or Shine (103): Johnson 29, Yap 27, Almazan 16, Tiu 12, Norwood 7, Belga 7, Ponferada 3, Daquioag 2, Ahanmisi 0, Borboran 0
GlobalPort (97): Pringle 23, Javelona 18, White 12, Grey 10, Anthony 10, Tautuaa 7, Taha 6, Teng 3, Espinas 2, Elorde 2, Guinto 2, Gabayni 2
Quarter scores: 24-22, 46-38, 75-67, 103-97