RAIN or Shine stepped up with its title hopes on the line, leaning on its rugged defense and balanced scoring to roll past San Mig Super Coffee, 88-79 on Monday and force a winner-take-all match in their PBA Governors Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Getting an unexpected lift from third-stringer Jonathan Uyloan, the Elasto Painters opened a 20-point lead in the first half and withstood a mid-game wobble where they went scoreless for over eight minutes to derail San Mig's quest to complete a rare grand slam before more than 18,000 fans.
Instead, the best-of-five finals now goes down to a winner-take-all match on Wednesday, with San Mig looking to become just the fourth team to complete a 'triple crown' and Rain or Shine gunning for just the second championship in its young history.
“It’s really just a simple formula for winning today - playing a lot harder, a lot harder than Game Three,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “As long as we’re playing with energy and intensity, we have a chance at winning the game."
The Elasto Painters leaned on their good ball movement to hit 12 three-pointers, three times more than the four three-pointers in a Game Three loss, and held their own in the battle off the boards.
Best Import awardee Arizona Reid again stood at the forefront for Rain or Shine in the win-or-go-home situation, firing a game-high 22 points, spiked by four three-pointers, to go along with 17 rebounds and two assists.
Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Ryan Arana all scored 10 or more points, while seldom-used guard Uyloan came off the bench to score eight points, providing the huge second half spark that allowed Rain or Shine to open a 20-point lead on the way to a 53-38 halftime spread.
Guiao said the Game Four win merely postponed San Mig’s supposed grand coronation. Now he is looking to have the Mixers' party cancelled.
“We played a lot better defense today than we did in Game Three. But it’s really just postponing their (Mixers) party,” said the outspoken coach.
“We’re hoping to have a chance to cancel it (San Mig’s Grand Slam attempt) on Wednesday, but we’ll just go back to practice tomorrow, prepare for Wednesday and hope to sustain the energy we have today.”
Import Marqus Blakely led San Mig with 21 points, but Rain or Shine's tenacious defense held him to just eight points and five rebounds in the second half.
James Yap finished with 12 points on a 3-of-10 clip from the field while his scoring partner Peter June Simon was held to just eight points. Marc Pingris scored just four points.
Rain or Shine 88 - Reid 22, Lee 14, Norwood 14, Belga 11, Arana 10, Uyloan 8, Almazan 3, Cruz 2, Tiu 2, Chan 2, Ibanes 0, Rodriguez 0.
San Mig 79 - Blakely 21, Yap 12, Devance 9, Sangalang 8, Simon 8, Barroca 7, Maliksi 6, Pingris 4, Taha 2, Melton 2, Mallari 0, Reavis 0.
Quarterscores: 21-21, 53-38, 69-55, 88-79