RAIN or Shine proved true to its word, putting up a gritty performance in the absence of its top local player to beat B-Meg, 93-84, on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in the PBA Governors’ Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Supposedly big underdogs after super rookie Paul Lee was ruled out of the rest of the best-of-seven series after aggravating his dislocated shoulder in Game Two, the Elasto Painters turned to import Jamelle Cornley and gunner Jeff Chan to stun the Llamados.
“This is for the few people who believed in us,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said.
Instead of being demoralized, the Painters drew strength from Lee’s injury.Cornley was a dominant presence all night as he collected 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists while Chan made up for his woeful shooting in Game Two as he led the Painters’ breakaway by scoring all of his 18 points in the last two quarters.
The southpaw gunslinger from Bacolod gave the Painters their biggest lead at 21 after his back-breaking triple made it 75-54 early in the fourth quarter.
“We thought the biggest compliment we can give to Paul is to win it for him,” Guiao said. “He helped us get here.”
Jireh Ibañes, Ronjay Benafe, and Gabe Norwood, who started at the point, ably filled the void left by the Painters’ rookie sensation as the trio all scored in double figures, with 12, 11, and 10 points, respectively.
“I felt in my heart the boys knew this is their destiny and they claimed their destiny,” said Guiao, whose wards are now two wins from their first title in franchise history. “They played with toughness that’s built in them.”
RAIN OR SHINE 93 - Cornely 26, Chan 18, Ibañes 12, Buenafe 11, Norwood 10, Tang 6, Araña 6, Belga 4, Cruz 0, Quiñahan 0
B-MEG 84 – Villanueva 18, Blakely 13, De Ocampo 13, Pingris 9, Yap 7, Barroca 6, Reavis 6, Gaco 4, Urbiztondo 4, Simon 4, Acuña 0
Quarterscores: 19-23; 40-38; 70-58; 93-84