Yap’s clutch heroics lift Rain or Shine past Ginebra for tied series
Don’t count out Rain or Shine yet.
The Elasto Painters sent this clear message to their critics last night, gutting out a come-from-behind 109-100 win to level the semifinal clash with fan-favorite Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Reggie Johnson and James Yap delivered the crucial jumpers at the crunch in a whirlwind finish that saw the Ginebra offensive machine conking out in the end.
Yap again summoned his MVP form, pumping in 18 points and capped by a long triple with less than a minute left that practically shut the door on the Gin Kings to gain a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series.
“Everybody has written us off. Now it’s 1-1 and we have time to regroup,’’ said Johnson, highly efficient throughout with his team-high 25 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists.
“We’re a confident bunch. We’re down 0-1 at the start, but we didn’t panic,’’ added the burly Rain or Shine enforcer.
Electing to take it from afar instead of piercing the Rain or Shine defense in the middle, successive misses by Joe De Vance, Jeff Chan and Justin Brownlee from the arc accelerated their defeat to the disappointment of the pro-Ginebra crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“All I can say is we played great defense in the last three minutes of the game,’’ said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.
While the spotlight trained on Johnson and Yap for that awesome finishing kick, Garcia credited Rey Nambatac for doing a masterful job off the bench.
The rookie from Letran buried back-to-back three-pointers midway in the fourth that ignited the Elasto Painters’ end-game onslaught.
“He (Nambatac) provided the spark and changed the complexion of the game while James and Reggie hit those big shots,’’ said Garcia.
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