RAIN or Shine thoroughly outplayed and outhustled a shellshocked Barangay Ginebra team in do-or-die Game Three on Sunday night, 102-89, to reach the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters set the tone in the third period, unloading a crippling 23-0 blitzkrieg for a huge 72-51 advantage as they bounced back strongly after losing Game Two, 77-79, to the Kings just two nights earlier.
Although the Gin Kings got within 72-79 midway through the final period, Rain or Shine rode on the endgame heroics of last season’s top rookie Paul Lee to earn the right to face old rival San Mig Coffee in the best-of-seven semifinals series.
Lee, who had a quiet five points in the first 24 minutes of play, exploded for 14 in the pivotal third quarter run, then added six more in the fourth quarter in what was easily his finest game since coming back from shoulder surgery.
“Motivation namin yung pagkakamali namin (in Game Two). Kasi may mga na di kami nagawa sa Game Two gaya ng box out at saka depensa,” said Lee, who earned Best Player of the game honors.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said: “Again we had to do it the hard way. We took the longer route, but we made our destination anyway. Medyo tumagal pero we learned a lot of things from the (Game Two) setback.
"We were kind of surprised by the zone they threw at us, pero pinaghandaan namin (this time),” said Guiao added.
While top gun Jeff Chan had another off night after finishing with just five points on 1-of-9 shooting, the usually gun-shy Gabe Norwood stepped up big in a game the Elasto Painters badly needed to win.
He shot a near-perfect 7-of-8 from the field en route to 21 points, while adding four rebounds, six assists and a rim-rattling alley-oop dunk to put an emphatic end to the brief quarterfinals series.
Though the Elasto Painters were thoroughly beaten again in the rebounding department, 46-57, Guiao’s boys showed better team play after finishing with 27 assists compared to the Gin Kings’ 19.
Ginebra also committed 16 turnovers, which Rain or Shine converted into 12 points.
LA Tenorio and Billy Mamaril each scored 20 points to lead the Gin Kings, while Mark Caguioa finished with 14 points, marked by horrible field shooting.
Caguioa, last season’s MVP, shot just 5-of-18 overall as he struggled in the face of a tight perimeter defense of Rain or Shine.
Rain or Shine 102 - Lee 25, Norwood 21, Cruz 12, Belga 11, Matias 9, Tiu 7, Rodriguez 6, Quinahan 6, Chan 5, Tang 0, Arana 0.
Barangay Ginebra 89 - Tenorio 20, Mamaril 20, Caguioa 14, Maierhofer 11, Helterbrand 9, Ellis 4, Wilson 4, Hatfield 4, Taha 3, Labagala 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarterscores: 27-27; 47-47; 76-64; 102-89.