MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Multiple lethal weapons proved too much to overcome.
The San Miguel Beermen wielded its three-point ax along with its June Mar Fajardo advantage and they closed out the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 117-110, in game 4 of their best-of-5 semifinals series to advance to the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup Finals on Wednesday, July 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen shot 9 three-pointers in a high-scoring game where they led by as much as 19 points and had all 5 of its starters scoring in double figures.
Reigning MVP Fajardo made his presence felt in the paint and backed San Miguel's outside shooting with 27 points and 7 rebounds, including key baskets down the stretch in response to Rain or Shine’s furious comeback attempt.
“The credit goes to the players because they did not want to lose,” said head coach Leo Austria. “They wanted to go to the Finals again.”
Import AZ Reid put up monster numbers once more with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Though he wasn’t as efficient in getting his points as he went 17-of-37 from the field and had 8 turnovers.
Reid, however, has been key for San Miguel in the series, averaging 30.7 markers and 9.3 boards in the first 3 games. He came through in the clutch once more with 4 straight points as the Beermen pulled away from a precarious lead.
Arwind Santos had 15 points after scoring just two points in game 3. He added 14 boards, 3 steals and two blocks to his name.
Marcio Lassiter had 12 while Alex Cabagnot had a near double-double with 11 points and 7 assists.
The Painters showed what they were truly made of as they did not allow a 19-point lead at the start of the payoff period to faze them.
They mounted a 14-3 run to open that last frame and they eventually came to within 5 points, 100-95, with 6:27 to go on a couple of free throws from Gabe Norwood.
A booming Jeff Chan trey pushed Rain or Shine to within 108-104 with 3:39 remaining but San Miguel countered with a 9-3 spurt to close the door on any hope of a comeback.
“Before the fourth quarter started, I told the guys ‘don’t forget we’re leading by 19 points and this is not a safe lead,” Austria shared.
“I warned the second group that you’re there to give rest to the starters. Unfortunately, they (Rain or Shine) quickly got 9 points but I’m happy to see that they did not want to lose and they did not point fingers at the second group. They kept on working hard.”
Import Wendell McKines finished with 25 points and 17 rebounds as he showed boundless amounts of energy in leading the Painters’ fourth quarter comeback.
Chan posted 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting from distance while Norwood came alive late for the second straight game with 11 of his 15 points coming in a 36-24 Rain or Shine rally in the last quarter.
Paul Lee added 13 points and went scoreless in the fourth.
Rain or Shine recognized the need to neutralize their foes' hot shooting before game 4 and they managed to keep them to just 7 threes through most of the first 3 quarters. But it was not enough to force a decider as the Beermen set up a rematch of the all-Filipino conference Finals with the Alaska Aces.
San Miguel will gun for its second title this season as the best-of-7 Finals begins Friday, July 10.
SAN MIGUEL 117 - Reid 38, Fajardo 27, Santos 15, Lassiter 12, Cabagnot 11, Espinas 6, Ross 5, Lutz 3, Tubid 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 110 - McKines 25, Chan 21, Norwood 15, Lee 13, Almazan 9, Quinahan 8, Cruz Jericho 7, Tiu 5, Arana 4, Ibanes 2, Belga 1, Uyloan 0.
Quarter scores: 31-20, 64-50, 93-74, 117-110.