THERE’S certainly no love lost for Rain or Shine and Alaska right on Christmas Day.
The Elasto Painters got away with a 98-91 win over the Aces in a wild and bruising encounter marred by the ejection of eccentric forward Calvin Abueva in the waning seconds of Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday.
After trailing for most of the game, the Elasto Painters got their act together in the pivotal fourth, where they outscored the Aces, 34-20, to turn the tide around and level the best-of-seven series at 2-game apiece.
Alaska’s case was compounded by the fouling out of big man Sonny Thoss with four minutes left and the subsequent ejection of Abueva after being called for a flagrant foul 2 for hitting Jonathan Uyloan with 1:43 left in the match and Rain or Shine holding on to a 92-89 lead.
Uyloan then split his two technical free throws before Gabe Norwood hit a corner trey off an Uyloan assist for a 96-89 advantage that all but settled the outcome of the game.
Game Five is set on Saturday also at the MoA.
"We were helped a lot by that stupid move of Calvin Abueva. Nakatulong yun," coach Yeng Guiao later admitted. "But we can't rely on him making some more stupid moves in the future. We have to do it on our own."
Rain or Shine trailed by as many as 69-58 late in the third period, but willed itself back in the fourth when Jeff Chan took over.
Playing his best game of the series, Chan fired nine of his game-high 25 points during that stretch, including two free throws that knotted the score at 80-all.
Everything didn't go Alaska's way from there as Thoss was whistled for his sixth and final foul with 3:51 to go and the Elasto Painters barely ahead, 86-85.
But the worst came almost two minutes later when Abueva hit Uyloan with a forearm in the stomach that left the Rain or Shine back up guard crumpling on the floor.
Abueva was called for a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected out of the game.
"We stayed tough. It's the resolve of the guys to even up this series. They just wanted to win this one and give themselves a good Christmas gift," said Guiao later.
Chan went 7-fo-14 from three-point range as the Elasto Painters shot 40 percent from downtown (34-of-84).
Gabe Norwood finished with 12 points including seven in the fourth, while Beau Belga added 11.
The loss spoiled the 25-point, 12-rebound effort of Thoss for the Aces, who also got 14 and 10 from Abueva and JV Casio, respectively.
Rain or Shine (98) - Chan 25, Norwood 12, Belga 11, Tiu, 10, Lee 8, Quinahan 7, Almazan 7, Uyloan 5, Arana 5, Ibanes 4, Tang 2, Cruz 2.
Alaska (91) - Thoss 25, Abueva 14, Casio 10, Manuel 9. Menk 8, Banchero 6, Baguio 6, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 3, Exciminiano 2, Dela Cruz 2.
Quarterscores: 20-21; 38-41, 64-71; 98-91.