Rain or Shine outplayed a badly fatigued San Mig Coffee to grab the first Finals berth in the PBA Philippine Cup with a 90-83 win in Game Six on Thursday night at the MOA Arena.
Jeff Chan, who struggled on offense the entire series, broke out of his scoring slump with 27 points, including seven in a critical 11-0 fourth quarter blast that allowed the Elasto Painters to break open what until then had been a tight contest.
The 4-2 win in the best-of-seven series enabled the reigning Governors Cup champions to reach their second successive Finals - and their first in an all-Filipino tournament since joining the league in 2007.
“I’m really glad it’s over, at least this series,” said Yeng Guiao, a multi-titled coach still looking for his first all-Filipino championship.
“I was just telling the guys before the game that it’s either we finish off San Mig Coffee in Game Six or we finish it off in Game Seven. I felt that if this series have gone to Game Seven, our chances would really be low.”
Guiao also heaped praise on Chan and sophomore guard Paul lee for regaining their touch when the Painters needed them most.
“Jeff and Paul came back to life when we really needed them. This is the time they are supposed to play their best and they did,” said Guiao.
“We had a simple game plan. Just keep the pace fast. Make them work defensively and keep chasing us. It worked in the first half, but they were still in the lead. But after maybe one or one-and-a-half quarters, they are going to tire out. And fortunately, they did tire out,” he added.
Lee buried 13 of his 15 points in the first half as the Elasto Painters kept the Mixers within sight, 48-52 at intermission.
But come the second half, it was Chan who shone brightly, attacking San Mig’s defense with an assortment of moves, both from in and out.
Guiao said he was happy with the way they played a choking defense on San Mig Coffee top gun James Yap, who was held to six points on a horrendous 2-of-15 shooting.
The Elasto Painters won the rebounding battle comfortably, 62-48. Gabe Norwood, who scored 12 points, added 12 boards as well. Heavyweight center Beau Belga also grabbed 12 boards aside from scoring seven points, handing three assists and adding three steals in a big all-around performance.
Rain or Shine’s 62 rebounds were a team conference-high. The Elasto Painters are also 8-0 this conference when outrebounding their opponents, compared to 7-8 when they don’t.
Fatigue played a big part in San Mig Coffee’s fourth quarter collapse as its starters PJ Simon, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance and James Yap played 35 minutes or more.
Simon led the Mixers with a personal conference-high of 29 points and six rebounds, while Pingris added 15 and 11 boards.
Rain or Shine 90 - Chan 27, Lee 15, Cruz 14, Norwood 10, Belga 7, Quinahan 5, Rodriguez 4, Tang 3, Arana 3, Ibanes 2, Tiu 0, Matias 0
San Mig Coffee 83 - Simon 29, Pingris 15, Devance 14, Barroca 6, Intal 6, Yap 6, Reavis 4, Villanueva 3, Gaco 0, De Ocampo 0
Quarterscores: 19-22, 48-52, 71-68, 90-83