RAIN or Shine moved on the brink of its first PBA title in its six-year franchise history, notching a decisive 94-89 Game Four victory over B-Meg in the Governors’ Cup Finals on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Without Rookie of the Year Paul Lee, the Elasto Painters fell into a huge 17-point hole but proved steadier in the clutch against the Llamados to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“You might think it’s over, but it’s not,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “Anything can change in a second if they (Llamados) are able to come back strong on Wednesday and go on a roll.”
Jamelle Cornley once again delivered for the Painters, tallying 23 points, 14 boards, and five assists. The Best Import awardee also scored the baby hook that gave his squad a two-possession 90-85 lead with one minute and 46 seconds left.
Gabe Norwood started for the second time in place of the injured Lee and produced as well with 18 points, including three three-pointers.
The Llamados erected an emphatic 29-12 lead late in the first canto, but could not capitalize on that as the Painters regrouped quickly and grabbed the upperhand.
“We really started out with low energy. We're just lucky we got out of that hole,” Guiao said. “If they had the lead at halftime, B-Meg would’ve been harder to beat.”
“We were trying focus on the adjustments they were going to make and we were not focusing on our own game plan,” added Guiao, who registered his 500th win as a coach.
When they finally had the lead, the Painters never looked back.
“I told the guys this was really the time we could pounce on them,” Guiao said. “TY Tang stepped up, Ronjay Buenafe stepped up. All the guys were making contributions.”
Buenafe scored 13 points, while Tang scored one of his few double-digit scoring outputs this season with 11 points in just 16 minutes.
The Llamados came closest at 89-92 after two Marcus Blakely free throws with 36.7 seconds remaining, but Rain or Shine sealed the win after the B-Meg import missed two more in the next possession and sharpshooter Jeff Chan calmly knocked in two of his own in the Painters’ ensuing offensive play.
The Painters were outrebounded by the Llamados (45-59) for the fourth straight game, but it didn’t matter as they made up for it by sharing the ball more, issuing 21 assists against 14 by the Llamados. They also committed just 12 turnovers compared to B-Meg’s 17.
The Llamados will now be trying to become just the first team in 21 years to come back from a 1-3 Finals deficit. In the 1991 First Conference title series, Ginebra came back to beat Shell in seven games behind the dramatic game-winning basket of Rudy Distrito.
RAIN OR SHINE 94 - Jamelle 23, Norwood 18, Buenafe 13, Tang 11, Quinahan 9, Chan 7, Belga 4, Arana 3, Cruz 2, Matias 2, Ibanes 2.
B-MEG 89 - Yap 25, Blakely 22, Simon 14, Urbiztondo 10, Villanueva 5, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, de Ocampo 4, Barroca 0.
Quarterscores: 17-30; 47-45; 74-72; 94-89.