PAUL Lee came to the rescue anew to lift Rain or Shine to a pulsating 134-132 double-overtime win over Barako Bull and into the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The unflappable playmaker from Tondo hit the go-ahead floater off the spin with 7.4 seconds left as the third-seeded Elasto Painters survived what turned out to be a grueling quarterfinal battle after squandering an early double-digit lead.
“It took a while before we accomplished our objective, but the more important thing is we did it,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said.
It’s the Painters’ seventh successive semifinal appearance, the longest streak since the Star franchise also the made the Final Four seven straight times from the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup to last season’s Governors’ Cup.
The Energy, on the other hand, failed to build on their early gains as a promising start that saw them enjoy the top spot came to a disappointing end to the season following a fifth straight setback.
The Painters will now face the winner of the San Miguel Beer-Meralco playoffs in the semifinals.
For a while, though, it looked like the Painters were headed for a lopsided victory as they erected a 56-31 lead midway through the second quarter.
But the Energy, eager to arrest a four-game skid, fought back and even held the lead momentarily at 108-107 after an RR Garcia triple late in regulation.
The Painters, though, refused to budge as they kept the Energy at bay on the way to notching a seventh straight win.
Lee finished with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, eight boards, and seven assists 35 minutes, while Wendell Mckines chipped in 36 points on 13-of-24 shooting, 15 boards, three assists, two blocks, one steal in 50 minutes.
Liam McMorrow registered 32 points, including four on two dunks that knotted the count twice, the first that forced second overtime at 111-111 and the second at 132 apiece that, however, set the stage for Lee’s heroics. The towering Canadian slotman added 23 boards, two blocks, and two assists in 50 minutes.
Garcia added 25 points, one shy of his career-high that he recorded just this elimination round coincidentally against Rain or Shine, although the young guard missed a potential game-winning layup in the first overtime.
ROS 134 – McKines 36, Lee 23, Tiu 14, Chan 12, Arana 12, Belga 11, Norwood 8, Almazan 7, Quinahan 5, Tang 4, Cruz Jervy 2, Uyloan 0, Ibanes 0, Teng 0, Cruz Jericho 0
BARAKO 132 – McMorrow 32, Garcia 25, Intal 16, Yeo 16, Wilson 16, Lanete 10, Pascual 8, Salva 4, Hubalde 2, Maierhofer 2, Chua 1, Ababou 0, Salvador 0
Quarterscores: 35-16, 60-50, 86-73, 111-111, 124-124, 134-132