VERNON Macklin made two big plays down the stretch and Lady Luck took care of the rest as Barangay Ginebra cut second seed Rain or Shine down to size, 81-79, on Monday night to reach the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals.
Macklin, a terrible free-throw shooter, surprisingly went 2-for-2 from the stripe with 14 seconds left for what proved to be the marginal points in a thrilling game witnessed by a huge Monday crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The high-leaping import then made a big defensive play on the other end, swatting away a layup by Jeff Chan that left the Painters with only six seconds to go for a tying basket or the game-winner.
The Painters had no less than three good cracks at a basket, but Paul Lee missed a corner three-pointer and Chan inexplicably bungled a wide-open follow-up try.
When Gabe Norwood's tip-in refused to go in at the buzzer, Ginebra became only the ninth team in PBA history to reach the Final Four after overcoming an opponent's twice-to-beat advantage.
Macklin finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists as the league's most popular ballclub found themselves in the semifinal stage for the first time this season. They take on Talk 'N Text next.