A SHORTHANDED Rain or Shine proved steadier in the clutch to squeak past San Miguel Beer, 111-106, on Saturday night and take the upper hand in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters, without their tallest player in 6-foot-8 Raymond Almazan, saw another dominant effort from June Mar Fajardo, but overcame an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth to prevail in Game Three and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The series shifts to Game Four on Monday also at the Big Dome.
“It’s a very hard win for us. We had to pay a big cost to win this game,” E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao said as his team also lost sophomore guard Jericho Cruz in the waning seconds when he hurt his left knee after a collision with Marcio Lassiter.
Good thing the healthy players delivered.
Paul Lee, in just his third game back from a long layoff, pumped in a team-high 18 points, while Beau Belga added 14 points and 14 boards, and hit a tough layup that gave the Painters a late six-point cushion, enough to negate the Beermen’s rally.
Fajardo registered 40 points, 20 boards, and four blocks, and knocked down a tough stab that nudged the Beermen to within a point, 107-106.
But Marcio Lassiter missed a teardrop that could’ve given them the lead, then committed a flagrant foul on Cruz, leading to the ROS guard’s injury, although rewarding them two free throws and the possession that spelled a big difference.
Lassiter finished with 22 points that went for naught.
ROS 111 – Lee 18, Belga 14, Chan 13, Norwood 13, Ponferada 12, Tiu 12, Ahanmisi 10, Quinahan 8, Cruz 6, Nimes 5, Trollano 0
SMB 106 – Fajardo 40, Lassiter 22, Santos 12, Tubid 11, Cabagnot 8, Lutz 6, Espinas 5, Reyes 2, Araña 0, Ross 0
Quarterscores: 26-27, 58-50, 78-86, 111-106