JEFF Chan made a steal and a coast-to-coast layup with 4.9 seconds left, bailing top-seeded Rain or Shine out in a thrilling playoff battle against Barangay Ginebra, 92-91, on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chan made a big three-pointer at the height of the see-sawing endgame battle as Rain or Shine fought back from six points down but saved the biggest play for last, at a time when the Elasto Painters trailed by one with the ball in Ginebra's hands.
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay picked the pocket of Ginebra import Michael Dunigan then went uncontested for a layup on the other end, giving Rain or Shine back the lead in the best game of the quarterfinals by far.
"I'm glad it's over," said a relieved Yeng Guiao after the win that enabled Rain or Shine to move on to the PBA Commissoner's Cup semifinals opposite the winner of the Meralco-NLEX series.
The eight-seeded Gin Kings had one last chance to snatch a victory and force a rubber match against twice-to-beat Rain or Shine, but Jayjay Helterbrand's desperation shot hit nothing but the shotclock atop the backboard.
“We got lucky. But it’s also a good time for Jeff to come out with probably one of his best games because Jeff was really shooting very badly. So we’re just waiting for him to get his rhythm back,” said Guiao.
Sophomore big man Raymond Almazan played like a veteran for Rain or Shine, pouring in 12 of his 17 points in the last period against Ginebra’s tall frontline of Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and import Michael Dunigan.
“Number one kami, pero parang ang hirap ng dinaanan namin because supposedly, this would be a light assignment, but Ginebra was never a light assignment,” said Guiao.
The heartbreaking loss extended the championship drought of the league's most popular team, which lasted lifted a trophy in the 2008 Fiesta Conference with import Chris Alexander.
Wayne Chism and Chan each scored 17 points for Rain or Shine.
Greg Slaughter led the Gin Kings with a personal conference-high 26 points to go with 16 rebounds and three blocks. Japeth Aguilar and Mark Caguioa chipped in 14 apiece but Dunigan finished with a conference-low 11, shooting just 4-of-13 overall from the field.
Ginebra shot better than Rain or Shine (42 percent to 34%) and held a huge 69-49 edge in rebounds, but was weighed down by its league-high 30 turnovers.
Rain or Shine 92 - Chism 17, Chan 17, Almazan 17, Lee 9, Norwood 9, Uyloan 5, Arana 4, Quinahan 4, Cruz 4, Teng 2, Tiu 2, Belga 2, Teng 0.
Ginebra 91 - Slaughter 26, Aguilar 14, Caguioa 14, Dunigan 11, Urbiztondo 7, Tenorio 7, Helterbrand 5, Yeo 4, Baracael 3, Ellis 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18; 44-42; 63-68; 92-91.