ANTIPOLO CITY - Rey Nambatac drained a couple of clutch three-pointers to help Rain or Shine beat Magnolia, 91-81, and forge a winner-take-all Game Seven for a berth in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The former Letran deadshot fired four three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, none more timely than the one he fired with three minutes left in Game Six that gave the Elasto Painters a comfortable 83-71 lead.
The Elasto Painters snapped a three-game losing streak to tie the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and set the stage for sudden-death on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena for the right to face San Miguel in the finals.
"We just tried to keep everything simple. Basically, we just enjoyed practice yesterday," said coach Caloy Garcia. "Just told them to play your game, play the way you're supposed to play. Be relaxed, and it worked."
Nambatac took his college coach's words to heart.
The former Letran star sizzled in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of his output during that stretch. He was 4-of-6 from three-point range to finish with 16 points and share scoring honors with James Yap.
Veterans Beau Belga and Jewel Ponferada had 15 and 11 points, respectively, for the Elasto Painters, who will be playing in their first Game 7 since losing to TnT Katropa in the 2016 Commissioner's Cup Finals.
The Hotshots were led by the 19 and eight rebounds of Ian Sangalang and the 18 points of Paul Lee, who had half of his output in the final quarter.
Until Nambatac exploded, the Hotshots were still very much in the game.
Game Six was tied at 62-all to end the third period and Magnolia was just down, 75-71, after Rodney Brondial scored on a lay-up at the 6:20 mark.
The Elasto Painters then went on an 8-0 blast capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Nambatac that opened the floodgates for a game-clinching barrage.
"Today sila Nambatac stepped-up big-time," said Garcia, who handled Nambatac at Letran and Racal in the PBA D-League.
Rain or Shine (91) - Nambatac 16, Yap 16, Belga 15, Ponferada 11, Norwood 8, Rosales 7, Ahanmisi 5, Daquioag 2, Mocon 2, Borboran 1.
Magnolia (81) - Sangalang 19, Lee 18, Jalalon 14, Herndon 9, Brondial 6, Melton 5, Reavis 4, Barroca 3, Ramos 3, Dela Rosa 0, Pascual 0, Abundo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-17; 41-35; 62-62; 91-81.