A RESOLUTE Rain or Shine leaned on a vicious fourth-quarter run to snuff the life out of powerhouse Petron, 97-88, and book a return trip to the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters played minus suspended coach Yeng Guiao, but not even that could prevent them from clinching the best-of-seven semifinals series, 4-1, and a berth in the All-Filipino title series for the second straight season.
The Finals stint is also the third championship appearance for the Asian Coating franchise over the last five conferences.
Big man Beau Belga played another splendid game, finishing with a team-high 18 points, including a completed three-point play off a foul by Chris Lutz that capped a 10-0 Rain or Shine run that gave the team an 89-80 lead.
The searing run proved to be the backbreaker for the Boosters, who appeared to have lost their confidence after missing their last five three-point attempts and allowed the Elasto Painters to seal the Game Five win.
“Making it in the Finals especially without coach Yeng, I mean, the boys really wanted to win the game today,” said Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who called the shots for the team in Guiao’s absence.
Garcia revealed his last instruction from Guiao during halftime was to minimize the team’s turnovers in the second half and keep attacking the basket for possible free throw attempts.
“Pinaalala lang sa amin ni coach Yeng nung halftime ang mga flaws namin sa laro. Sabi ko, come the second half, we have to be aggressive on defense,” explained the soft-spoken Garcia.
The second Philippine Cup Finals stint gives Rain or Shine an opportunity to complete an unfinished business after it was swept unceremoniously (0-4) by Talk ‘N Text during their championship tussle last season.
Arwind Santos, the league’s reigning MVP, led the Boosters with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Marcio Lassiter added 18.
June Mar Fajardo finished with 16 points, though half of his output came from free throws as Belga and JR Quinahan alternated in sending him to the foul line.
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, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 16, Kramer 8, Cabagnot 8, Hubalde 6, Tubid 5, Ross 4, Lutz 2, Taha 1.
Quarterscores: 22-31; 45-52; 72-69; 97-88.