RAIN or Shine regained a part of its shooting touch, and then played tough defense in the stretch to eke out a come-from-behind 92-87 victory over Petron to keep its title hopes alive in the PBA Governors Cup semifinals Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Jeff Chan, struggling all conference long with his outside shooting, came out firing from the get-go to lead the Elasto Painters’ gutsy fightback by scoring 18 points spiked by four three-pointers.
But Rain or Shine’s defense proved to be the key in a game that saw the defending champion come back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit behind a telling 16-2 windup for the win.
The Elasto Painters still trail the Boosters in the best-of-five series, 1-2, but are looking to equalize in Game 4 set Monday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“We just avoided the embarrassment of being swept so it’s just really something we just survived on. We made some three-point shots today as opposed to zero the last game,” said winning coach Yeng Guiao.
The fiery mentor, who arrived in the game at the start of the second period after again being stuck in traffic, credited the team’s strong interior defense for clamping down on big Petron rookie center June Mar Fajardo.
After averaging career-highs of 20.5 points and 15.5 rebounds on 69.6 field goal percent shooting during the first two games of the series, Fajardo was held down to just nine.
“JR (Quinahan) gave us serious minutes especially on defense,” Guiao added in crediting the wide-bodied backup center, who returned and suited up for the game despite nursing an achilles heel injury.
The loss snapped Petron’s franchise-setting 11 straight wins and delayed the Boosters’ entry to the Finals.
The Boosters struggled against the Elasto Painters’ physical defense, shooting just 32.9 percent from the field.
Credit also goes to Rain or Shine guard Gabe Norwood, who put the cuffs on Petron import Elijah Millsap.
The 6-foot-5 Millsap scored 17 points, but shot just 4-of-21 overall in the game, aside from being in foul trouble during the fourth period.
Arizona Reid led the Painters with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists.
Rain or Shine (92) -- Reid 25, Chan 18, Tiu 9, Belga 7, Quinahan 7, Cruz 6, Ibanez 6, Matias 4, Norwood 4, Tang 3, Rodriguez 3.
Petron (87) -- Cabagnot 18, Millsap 17, Lutz 15, Lassiter 11, Fajardo 9, Santos 9, Lanete 5, Tubid 3, Kramer 0.
Quarterscores: 23-19; 48-44; 72-70; 92-87.