RAIN or Shine survived the loss of coach Yeng Guiao and top gun Paul Lee as well as another monster game from Petron big man June Mar Fajardo to put away an 88-83 win on Monday night and move within a win of returning to the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Dominated and battered by behemoth Fajardo for most of the game, Beau Belga had the last laugh when he buried a three-pointer from the deep right corner in a critical, late-game run that enabled the Elasto Painters to open a five-point lead at 87-82.
A free throw from Gabe Norwood, and a slew of misses from Petron, in the endgame helped Rain or Shine escape with its 11th win over its last 12 games - and a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff.
Guiao moved within a win of another Finals shot at his first-ever all-Filipino championship but was no longer around to see the fiercely fought ending, having been tossed out for a second technical for complaining for the second successive game in the series.
Former Rookie of the Year Lee also missed out on the second half after suffering a sprained ankle late in the first half while trying to stop Petron guard Chris Ross during a fastbreak play.
"The guys just did not give up. They won it on their own. I had nothing to do with this victory,” said Guiao, who was ejected for a second technical foul in the third quarter.
It was an all-around effort from the Painters, who had nine players score at least seven points. Belga scored his only points of the game on the three-pointer with one minute and 53 seconds remaining.
Coming off a 73-106 defeat in Game Three, the Painters stayed toe-to-toe with the Painters this time in a game that saw 10 lead changes and eight deadlocks.
Defense once again proved to be the difference as the Painters forced the Boosters 28 turnovers that turned into 21 points.
Fajardo registered 27 points, 14 boards, and two blocks, but appeared fagged out in the endgame as he had only four minutes of rest.
Rain or Shine (88) – Arana 12, Chan 11, Ibanes 11, Norwood 10, Cruz 8, Rodriguez 8, Quinahan 7, Lee 7, Nuyles 6, Belga 3, Tang 3, Almazan 2, Tiu 0
Petron (83) – Fajardo 27, Santos 14, Lutz 13, Lassiter 10, Ross 9, Tubid 5, Cabagnot 5, Duncil 0, Taha 0, Kramer 0, Hubalde 0, Deutchman 0
Quarterscores: 33-28, 48-50, 72-69, 88-83