BARANGAY Ginebra drew a vintage performance from Rudy Hatfield and a big defensive play from top offensive player Mark Caguioa in the endgame to hold off Rain or Shine, 79-77, on Friday night and send their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinalc series to a do-or-die third game.
The 35-year-old Hatfield finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, six on the offensive, and he and another unlikely hero for Ginebra, Yousif Taha, provided the high-energy plays and the hustle which were miserably missing when the Gin Kings were routed in the series opener.
“I want to thank God for this victory. The key thing was just a personification of Rudy (Hatfield). Iyung heart, puso ba -diving for loose balls, dun mo makikita eh, sa mga players na kagaya niya. I’m very privileged to be working amongst players like that," said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen.
But he was quick to remind the Ginebra faithful: "We are far from having done anything."
When Rain or Shine made one final stand and chopped down a seven-point deficit to two with ball in its possession, it was Caguioa who stepped up on defense for a change, sticking close enough to keep Paul Lee from getting a look at the basket as the clock ran down to its final 2.4 seconds.
The final play went awfully wrong for the Painters, as Gabe Norwood - forgetting that he still has one 30-second timeout to call - threw a haphazard inbound pass which was easily intercepted by Rico Maierhofer.
"I'm 35 and I don't know how many more chances I have of winning a title," said Hatfield. "So that's where the never-say-die (mentality) comes from."
Even rookie big man Taha proved key for the Kings with two points and five boards in 10-fourth-quarter minutes, giving a big emotional lift for the Kings who lost Game One by a mile, 65-82.
Unlike in the series opener, Ginebra dominated the boards, 59-47 while its interior defense forced the Painters to take 33 attempts from beyond the arc, making just nine.
Jeff Chan, Rain or Shine’s top gunner, struggled once again, scoring just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field. His last three-point attempt prior to Norwood’s bad inbounds pass was halfway in but rolled out.
“Yung three-point shots nila (Elasto Painters) are always a concern. They are shooting at a high percentage. Kahit nga big men nila nagti-three points eh. At least somehow, we need to challenge those shots,” said Tanquingcen.
Rookie forward Chris Ellis led the Gin Kings with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Caguioa added 17 and seven boards.
Paul Lee led the Elasto Painters with 19 points but was just 5-of-14 from the field.
Barangay Ginebra 79 - Ellis 18, Caguioa 17, Tenorio 16, Hatfield 10, Mamaril 9, Maierhofer 4, Helterbrand 3, Taha 2, Jensen 0, Espiritu 0, Espiritu 0, Raymundo 0
Rain or shine 77 - Lee 19, Chan 12, Arana 9, Cruz 8, Norwood 8, Tiu 7, Quinahan 5, Belga 3, Matias 2, Tang 2, Rodriguez 2
Quarterscores: 22-20, 33-41, 57-55, 79-77