Painters claim finals berth, eliminate Beermen
There will be no “beer-acle” this time.
Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao delivered his promise as the Elasto Painters advanced to the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals after blowing out the San Miguel Beermen, 124-99, in Game 4 of their semifinals series on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Not even the arrival of Arizona Reid as the Beermen’s replacement for import Tyler Wilkerson could prevent the Elasto Painters’ return to the championship round where the franchise hopes to win the title it lost last season.
“I’m really most proud of the resiliency of my team,” said Guiao, who guaranteed that Rain or Shine will make the Finals after losing Game 3 last Thursday. “It’s a great feeling to be back in the Finals again especially beating a great team like San Miguel.”
Denied by an all-Filipino San Miguel side in Game 3, 104-98, Rain or Shine tore the Grand Slam-seeking Beermen apart as they charged ahead in the second quarter led by Paul Lee and Chris Tiu to take a 46-32 lead midway in the pivotal period.
San Miguel still tried to get back in the game, trimming the deficit down to 12 in the third quarter, but Rain or Shine showed great resolve and brought its lead back to 22, 92-70, at the end of the quarter.
They went on cruise control from that point and would establish a 26-point lead in separate stretches in the final frame.
Lee registered a series-best 18 points, on 6-of-9 shooting from the field that went with five rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench while Pierre Henderson-Niles dominated the sluggish Beermen frontline, posting 15 points and 14 rebounds with four steals to boot.
Rain or Shine will face the winner of the other semifinals matchup between Alaska and Meralco. The Aces hold a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series.
Gabe Norwood added 15 points built on three triples, while Tiu uncorked two 3-pointers en route to a 13-point night.
Jericho Cruz provided the energy anew and fired 12 points, while Raymond Almazan had 10 markers and seven rebounds.
Guiao admitted he was concerned with the entry of Reid to the Beermen.
“With AZ coming in for them, we had a hard time beating this team last year. But I knew he wasn’t 100 percent and this is the best time for us to make it to the Finals. It really was a big break for us,” he said.
The Painters finally found a way to figure out the Beermen, who had beaten them in their last two semifinals duels.
“Of course, it’s satisfying. It’s something that previously, nagdududa ka kung kaya ba, but players proved me wrong,” said Guiao.
Reid led the Beermen with 25 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists. Marcio Lassiter got 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from threes but fouled out with still under 11 minutes left in the game. Alex Cabagnot chimed in 18 points, eight assists, and five boards, while June Mar Fajardo struggled with just 12 points and four rebounds.
RAIN OR SHINE 124 – Lee 18, Henderson-Niles 15, Norwood 15, Tiu 13, Cruz 12, Almazan 10, Ahanmisi 9, Quiñahan 8, Chan 6, Ponferrada 5, Belga 4, Ibañes 3, Nimes 2, Teng 2, Trollano 2.
SAN MIGUEL 99 – Reid 25, Lassiter 20, Cabagnot 18, Fajardo 12, Espinas 6, Ross 6, Santos 6, David 5, De Ocampo 1, Arana 0, Heruela 0, Tubid 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 61-42, 92-70, 124-99