PETRON Blaze played with a lot of grit and determination, stepping on the gas on the way to an easy 106-73 win to cut Rain or Shine’s series lead to 2-1 in their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With reigning MVP Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot leading the way, the Boosters unleashed a crippling 19-0 run bridging the first two quarters, turning a three-point lead into a 34-12 bubble and setting the tone for the rest of the one-sided contest of the Petron Saturday Special.
Boosters coach Gee Abanilla wisely adjusted his game plan by relying on his gunners through quick ball movement, resulting in eight three-pointers that enabled the team to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole in the best-of-seven semifinal series.
“It really feels good to finally get our first win in the series. I thought we played well in the second game, unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish it off,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
“We made some adjustments, and I’m just happy the guys responded.”
The E-Painters, who saw their franchise-best 10-game winning streak come to an end, managed to come to within 64-77 early in the final period. But without an ejected coach Yeng Guiao on the bench to guide them, the Boosters went to finish them off from there.
The fiery Rain or Shine coach was slapped with his second technical foul in the game for flashing a dirty finger at Arwind Santos, who chased the loose ball in front of the E-Painters’ bench with 1:36 left in the third canto.
Assistant coach Caloy Garcia took over the rest of the way.
Abanilla said the team has finally adjusted to the physical nature of the series, which has caught them off guard during the first two games.
“We knew what to do with this game. It’s really tough. We have to be mentally and physical prepared. We’re just happy for this win,” he added.
Santos led the Boosters with 22 points and 18 rebounds while nailing three three-point conversions in the game. Cabagnot added 15, while June Mar Fajardo came through with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Beau Belga led the E-Painters with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Paul Lee, who averaged 14 points in the first two games of the series, had a quiet four points while going 0-for-5 from the field.