Rain or Shine takes 2-1 series edge over B-Meg sans Paul LeeBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — Rain or Shine hardly felt Paul Lee’s absence as it hammered B-Meg, 93-84, to seize a 2-1 series edge in the 2012 PBA Governor’s Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Marksman Jeff Chan ignited a telling second half run, picking up where best import Jamelle Cornely started as the Elastopainters turned a double-digit deficit to as wide as a 21-point lead.
“I just wanted to be aggressive this game. It was just about getting into the game early and staying in rhythm for the rest of the game,” said Cornely, who amassed 25 points, 15 rebounds and six assists tonight.
Chan, who iced the game in the final minute with his steady free throw shooting, caught fire from downtown and poured all of his 18 points in the second half alone.
“Everybody just stepped up in this game,” added Cornely as his squad lost its prized rookie to an injured shoulder.
Chan capped the onslaught for Rain or Shine, which doubled B-Meg’s output in the third quarter, with a personal 5-0 swing for a 75-54 edge with just a minute gone by in the payoff period.
It was a statement game for the Elastopainters, whose head coach Yeng Guiao declared Wednesday night, “We will win this series with or without Paul Lee.”
But the series is far from over with the Llamados dead set into seeking revenge and tying the series on Sunday — though head coach Tim Cone is resigned to the fact that his squad needs rest.
“If we can steal some rest time and make them mentally fresh, hopefully on Sunday we can play the way we want to play,” said Cone. “We just didn’t play fresh from the start.’’
B-Meg, though, even lead by as many as 11 points in the first half but quickly lost steam in the second quarter on Rain or Shine’s 15-3 run.
James Yap was held to just seven points, Marc Pingris to nine points, PJ Simon to just four, while Marcus Blakely didn’t quite measure up against his counterpart Cornley as he only had 13 points.
But with Jonas Villanueva, who had a team-high 18 markers, running the floor, the Llamados came to life in the fourth quarter and cut down the deficit to single digits.
B-Meg, which is gunning for back-to-back titles this season, just didn’t have enough firepower with Simon and Yap riding on the bench to close out the comeback.
Game four is on Sunday at the same venue after the PBA Leo awards.