by Waylon Galvez
Almost forgotten, Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan reintroduced himself last night to stall San Mig Super Coffee coach Tim Cone’s bid at history.
Averaging only 10.2 points in the first four games, Chan fired 24 points as the Painters carved out an 81-74 victory over the Mixers in Game 5 at the packed Smart Araneta Coliseum to make their best-of-seven series more interesting.
The 6-foot-2 member of Gilas Pilipinas finished with 7-of-16 shots from the field and made 7-of-8 foul shots to delay the Mixers’ bid for a sixth Philippine Cup crown.
The win likewise denied Cone from becoming the winningest coach in league history. He’s currently tied with his idol, Baby Dalupan, with 15 titles each.
Chan was held to just a free throw in the first half, but waxed hot right away in the third, banging in 9 markers as he displayed the shooting touch that helped Gilas reach the final of the FIBA Asia last year.
Then he turned into a one-man army in the payoff period where he scattered 14 points, including a tough turnaround basket that gave them a 79-72 breather with 48.3 seconds remaining.
“We just grinded out the win,” said Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, whose team will try to become the second team to win a seven-game title series after being down 3-1.
Chan’s performance last night made up for a bungled three-point shot at the buzzer in Game 3 that enabled the Mixers to escape with a 77-76 win.
In Game 4, he was a pitiful sight on the floor after finishing with only six points,
This time, Chan was on target.
The win also revived the Elasto Painters’ quest to give Guiao his first all-Filipino championship, and the fiery coach believes winning the series remains on track.
“We’re still certainly behind in the series, but one thing we can promise to our fans, ‘we’ll fight it out to the end.’ We’re still looking to make the championship. One thing I told the boys before the game and even in our practice (last Saturday), we cannot lose that sense of destiny. Even if we’re behind, it’s not over,” said Guiao.
“We have to believe in ourselves and stay positive. Who knows? A big win like this can turn things around in our favor. We’ll try to delay or postpone the celebration of San Mig (in Game 6), and hopefully if we can delay it enough, we might be the one celebrating on Friday,” added Guiao.
Marc Pingris, who was doubtful for Game 5 because of a scratch on his right cornea (eye), finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds for San Mig.
“We gave it a valiant effort but trying to beat a team four games in a row is a tough mountain to climb,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone.
“We just didn’t have the edge on focus and concentration, we didn’t finish around the rim tonight. We got a couple of days now to recover and get Ping (Pingris) a little more healthy, and get our legs back,” added Cone.