Rain or Shine now just a victory awayBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
WITH JUST one more victory, Rain or Shine can very well supply a happy ending to what’s printed on the shirts of each team personnel.
The Elasto Painters, still without the Rookie of the Year that helped take them to the PBA Governors Cup Finals, inched their way to within a win of wrapping up the series after a 94-89 Game 4 decision of fancied B-Meg at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Dare to Dream” has been the Painters’ battlecry ever since making the playoffs, but even the nightmarish injury to Paul Lee in Game 2 has not deterred Rain or Shine from moving closer to writing a happy ending to this story that has been full of drama on and off the floor.
Jamelle Cornley scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds and five assists, and Gabe Norwood scattered 18, including a crucial triple with 4:39 left that opened up an 88-81 lead which proved too much for the Llamados to overhaul and gave the Painters a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Ronjay Buenafe was also big, completing two four-point plays before capping a 13-point night with two free throws in the final 38.3 that ushered the Painters to a 92-87 lead after they trailed by 17 in the first period.
Only one team in league history, Ginebra San Miguel in the 1991 First Conference Finals against Shell, was able to complete a comeback from 1-3 down to win a best-of-seven championship series.
And ROS coach Yeng Guiao is very aware that B-Meg is equipped to duplicate such a feat.
“When you’re playing B-Meg, anything can change,” Guiao said.
James Yap paced the Llamados with 25 points, while import Marqus Blakely had 22 that went with 23 rebounds.
Earlier, Mark Caguioa, after all the heartaches with Barangay Ginebra and the bodily pain, found redemption by being crowned as the PBA’s MVP for its 37th Season over scoring champion Gary David of Powerade during the Leo Awards.
The 6-foot gunslinger, who wasn’t even supposed to play in the Governors Cup because of a career-threatening eye injury, won out in the media, players’ and PBA votes to wind up with 2,399 points.
David was second with 1,891 points.
Caguioa and David went on to lead the Mythical First Team that also included Arwind Santos of Petron Blaze, Yap of B-Meg and Talk ‘N Text’s Ranidel de Ocampo; Rain or Shine’s Lee captured the Rookie of the Year award as expected; and Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan, was adjudged the Most Improved Player.
RAIN OR SHINE 94—Jamelle 23, Norwood 18, Buenafe 13, Tang 11, Quinahan 9, Chan 7, Belga 4, Arana 3, Cruz 2, Matias 2, Ibanes 2.
B-MEG 89—Yap 25, Blakely 22, Simon 14, Urbiztondo 10, Villanueva 5, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, de Ocampo 4, Barroca 0.
Quarters: 17-30, 47-45, 74-72, 94-89