by Tito S. Talao
Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs San Mig Coffee
8 p.m. – Petron Blaze vs Barako Bull
Manila, Philippines – That Beau Belga hit a three-point shot to seal the playoff game for Rain or Shine (ROS) wasn’t surprising. It’s what he did afterward that was.
Belga came off the bench in the final two minutes last night and scored six of his 17 points, including a huge triple with 40 seconds remaining, to lift the Elasto Painters past Globalport, 106-96, and into the semifinals of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In the Final Four in six previous conferences, three of them in the Philippine Cup, Rain or Shine will face the winner of the Petron-Barako Bull quarterfinal series in the best-of-7 semis.
Nearly four months to the day when Rain or Shine ousted Globalport in the playoffs of the 2013 Governors Cup, a game which the Batang Pier led until then coach Junel Baculi got ejected for incurring two technicals, the E-Painters saw a 98-90 lead cut down to two with 3:18 to go.
Belga, a portly 225-pound 6-foot-6 center, didn’t help matters initially by missing two free throws with 1:23 left. But Globalport lost precious time setting up the game-tying play and rookie Terrence Romeo rushed the desperation buzzer-beater.
With their own shot clock running down, Belga got open at the right wing, got the pass, and drained his third triple to make it a five-point Rain or Shine advantage.
Apparently overcome by emotions, Belga, not exactly noted for his leaping ability, raced upcourt after gunning down with his index finger somebody at the Commissioner’s Row and rose to grab the rim for a celebratory hang time.
“Kailangan nang i-shoot yon,” said Belga sheepishly later. “Baka magalit na si coach pag di pa pumasok eh.”
E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao, who got a first quarter warning for resenting a call and exchanged words with Romeo just before halftime, marveled at the Batang Pier’s staying power.
“They kept coming back. We couldn’t put them away,” said Guiao. “I thought they would give up in the third quarter, I was wrong.”
The E-Painters, seeded second in the playoffs, had a twice-to-beat advantage but found no need to make use of the incentive against the No. 7 Batang Pier as Belga bailed them out.
“We kept our winning streak but we don’t want to focus on that,” said Guiao, whose eight straight with Rain or Shine is a franchise best.
Alaska survived its third straight knockout game as they defeated top seed Barangay Ginebra, 104-97, to live another day.
The Aces and the Kings meet again on Saturday to determine who will advance to the next round.