RAIN or Shine showed its championship pedigree in a critical second-half offensive to beat Globalport, 108-106, and advance to the PBA Governors Cup semifinals on Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After struggling to find their rhythm in the first three quarters, veterans Ryan Arana, Jervy Cruz and Gabe Norwood stepped up to lead the defending champions’ successful fightback from a 12-point second-half deficit.
Arana hit 12 of his 16 points in the final period, Cruz scored eight of his 12 over the same span while Norwood nailed the biggest shot of the night - a three-pointer from the corner with 17.8 ticks to play that gave Rain or Shine a 107-103 lead.
The Batang Pier fought gallantly in their first appearance in the playoffs but fell apart in the homestretch as they played without head coach Junel Baculi, who was ejected late in the third canto for incurring two technical fouls.
E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao said the memory of the team's early exit in the last Commissioner's Cup - where Barangay Ginebra beat the second-seeded Painters twice in the quarterfinals - spurred them on this time.
“The memory of the last conference was still fresh in our minds. It was a little bit of pressure for us because Globalport was playing well and they really had a chance to win the game,” said Guiao.
“That thought (quarterfinal loss) was really bothering us, having lost last conference with a twice-to-beat advantage. Now, that’s a big relief for us because we survived a bad free throw shooting night.”
The E-Painters’ struggled from the foul line, going just 27-of-43 from the stripe that allowed the Batang Pier to dictate the tempo for much of the game.
“But the important thing is we made some big shots. Ryan Arana made some big ones in the fourth quarter. Gabe made a big shot, too so I’m just glad to grind out a win and beat a ballclub that is getting better every game,” added Guiao.
Arizona Reid had 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead the E-Painters, who will now meet the winner of the quarterfinal match-up pitting sister teams Petron and Ginebra.
Markeith Cummings and Solomon Mercado scored 29 and 22 points, respectively, to lead the Batang Pier, but the duo also accounted for 11 of Globalport’s 15 turnovers in the game.
Rain or Shine 108 - Reid 25, Arana 16, Lee 14, Cruz 12, Tiu 10, Norwood 9, Belga 7, Quinahan 7, Chan 6, Rodriguez 2, Uyloan 0, Matias 0, Tang 0, Ibanes 0.
GlobalPort 106 - Cummings 29, Mercado 22, Washington 18, David 18, Nabong 5, Taha 4, Lingganay 4, Salvador 4, Miller 2, Belencion 0, Alonzo 0.
Quarterscores: 23-34, 49-53, 77-78, 108-106