MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine denied Blackwater a franchise milestone in a thrilling 85-83 win to complete the semifinals cast of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, July 25.
Rey Nambatac came up clutch for the Elasto Painters anew by drilling in the go-ahead bucket with 18 seconds left as they prevented the Elite from reaching the semifinals for the first time in franchise history.
Awaiting Rain or Shine in a best-of-five series is league juggernaut San Miguel, which survived a twice-to-beat disadvantage against NorthPort in their quarterfiinals affair.
Hitting the game-winning triple in their 83-80 Game 1 victory, Nambatac showed Rain or Shine can always rely on him at crunchtime by draining a midrange jumper off a crossover on Roi Sumang that broke an 83-83 deadlock.
Nambatac finished with 21 points off the bench, pouring it out in the final frame where he erupted for 12 of his team's 20 points. He also added 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
Blackwater had ample time to either knot the score or take back the upper hand, but import Greg Smith saw his jump shot from the top of the key fall short as time expired.
Import Carl Montgomery struggled from the free throw line after going 2-of-9, but made up for it by dominating the boards and putting up 14 points, 23 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Elasto Painters.
Just like the sophomore Nambatac, another young gun stepped up big for Rain or Shine with rookie Javee Mocon delivering 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, while veteran Beau Belga added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Mac Belo almost singlehandedly led the Elite to victory by tying the game with back-to-back triples at 83-83, but his 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals was not enough for them to advance to the next round.
Smith ended his campaign with 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Ray Parks added 16 points and 4 rebounds in the loss.
Rain or Shine 85 - Nambatac 21, Mocon 15, Montgomery 14, Belga 10, Norwood 7, Ponferada 6, Torres 5, Rosales 4, Borboran 3, Onwubere 0, Alejandro 0.
Blackwater 83 - Parks 16, Belo 16, Smith 15, Maliksi 14, Cortez 10, Digregorio 5, Desiderio 3, Sumang 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Sena 0.
Quarters: 23-31, 38-45, 65-69, 85-83.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.