RAIN or Shine found a way to stage a mighty comeback in a game where it trailed most of the way, pulling off a miraculous 80-79 victory over San Mig Coffee in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Top gunner Jeff Chan exploded for 17 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and went 4-of-6 from beyond the three-point arc in leading the Elasto Painters’ huge comeback from as much as an 18-point third-quarter deficit.
Already without injured players Marc Pingris, Joe DeVance, and JC Intal, the Mixers further compounded their woes when main man James Yap was ejected in the 2:34 mark of the fourth quarter and San Mig ahead, 77-73.
The 6-foot-2 Yap was assessed his second technical foul of the game after hacking a driving Jireh Ibanes hard in the face during a Rain or Shine fastbreak. He was earlier called for his first technical foul for second motion during the first period.
In Yap’s absence, the undermanned Mixers relied on the offense of shooting guard PJ Simon the rest of the way.
Chan completed his second four-point play of the fourth quarter following Yap’s ejection to knot the count at 77-77, before big man Beau Belga buried a booming triple to give the Elasto Painters the lead for good, 80-77.
Simon slashed the lead to a single point on a jump shot in the final 84 seconds.
Both teams missed on their respective possessions, including two free throws by Rain or Shine big man JR Quinahan that could have sealed the outcome of the match with 5.4 seconds to go, allowing the Mixers one final shot for a game-winning basket.
But Jonas Villanueva’s basket was short after getting a late pass from Mark Barroca that dealt the Mixers their second straight loss.
“Don’t ask me how we won, because yes, we won this game, but I really I don’t understand it,” admitted Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao after the first game between the two teams since the Governors Cup Finals won by the Elasto Painters.
“We played really ugly basketball but we still won the game, there’s no explanation to that. I can’t explain the win. So we'll just enjoy the win and watch the tape (to see) how we won the game,” added the Rain or Shine mentor.
Trailing for the most part, Guiao said Rain or Shine just tried to cut the Mixers’ lead little by little through good defense.
To his surprise, the Elasto Painters managed not only to cut the lead, but win it in the endgame.
“It’s beyond analysis. It’s beyond assessment because we just tried to cut the lead, possession per possession and we didn’t know we can win it in the end,” said Guiao, whose team maintained solo second with a 4-1 record behind Talk ‘N Text’s league-best 5-0 card.
The Tropang Texters, who earlier scored a heart-stopping 79-76 win against the Barako Bull Energy Cola, will face the Elasto Painters on Saturday in Victorias City in Bacolod.
The smaller Elasto Painters surprisingly won the rebounding battle, 47-42, with Quinahan, Jervy Cruz and Gabe Norwood combining for 29 boards.
Yap led the Mixers with 28 points, while Simon added 17.
Rain or Shine 80 - Chan 22, Cruz 10, Norwood 9, Quinahan 9, Belga 7, Rodriguez 7, Tang 5, Arana 5, Jaime 4, Ibanes 2, Matias 0
San Mig Coffee 79 - Yap 28, Simon 17, Ramos 9, Reavis 8, Gonzales 7, De Ocampo 4, Gaco 2, Barroca 2, Villanueva 2
Quarter scores: 17-26, 31-40, 50-66, 80-79