Painters scrape through
Rain or Shine showed the game that gave it top-seeding in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs, thanks in large part to James Yap, who came up with the kind of game that has made him one of the league’s deadliest guns of all time.
The former two-time MVP dropped a career-high seven triples on GlobalPort Thursday night and spearheaded a 103-97 victory by the Elasto Painters over the Batang Pier for the last Final Four slot in the import-spiced conference at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“I was ready and I was given enough playing time,” said the 14-year veteran after his masterful performance to finish with his biggest output in the last four years.
Prior to Yap’s offensive fireworks, GlobalPort threatened to pull off an upset after reducing the twice-to-beat advantage of the Elasto Painters in a no-tomorrow contest with a narrow victory in their initial quarterfinal meeting.
“It feels good to win, but I’m not satisfied with how the game ended. We didn’t get any fouls in the fourth quarter,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, visibly irked with the officiating.
Rain or Shine will be playing in the semifinals for the first time since Yeng Guiao left the team two seasons ago, and it was but fitting that Yap had a hand by coming up with his best game as a Painter since being acquired from Purefoods last season.
Reggie Johnson led the Painters with 29 points and Yap finished with 27 as Rain or Shine advanced to face crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five series that starts Sunday.
Stanley Pringle paced the Batang Pier with 23 points and GlobalPort again played above expectations. The eighth-seeded Batang Pier took the Painters to this do-or-die encounter after carving out a 114-113 triumph on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a familiar foe in an unlikely stage of a tournament is up for Leo Austria and San Miguel Beer.
But for the multititled coach and his Beermen, clashing with Alaska in a best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup will be just like any other day at the office.
“We’re facing them (in a series) for the first time that is not the Finals,” Austria said of the Aces, whom they last played in the 2016 Philippine Cup title series where they gave birth to the “Beer-acle” fame after roaring back from 0-3 down in the best-of-seven playoffs to win.
San Miguel also made it to the Final Four for the first time under Austria’s watch coming out of a best-of-three series.