by Waylon Galvez
Game Tuesday (Mall of Asia Arena)
8 p.m. – San Mig Super Coffeee vs Rain or Shine
Manila, Philippines – Import Arizona Reid banged in a game-high 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but it was Paul Lee who provided the telling blows in the endgame as Rain or Shine scored a 97-94 win over Alaska in their do-or-die semifinal match in the PLDT Home Telpad Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The victory set up the Elasto Painters a best-of-five finals series with San Mig Super Coffee starting Tuesday.
But the win did not come on silver platter for Rain or Shine as the Painters battled tooth and nail with the Aces until the very end.
While it was Reid who lit up the scoreboard, Lee dealt the most damage in the final 30 seconds of the game.
With the Painters ahead by just two points, 93-91, the 6-foot Lee drove to the shaded area and converted on a layup that gave them a 95-91 lead with 30.6 seconds left in the game.
Alaska import Henry Walker trimmed Rain or Shine’s lad to a single point after nailing a three-pointer off a timeout, 94-95, 23.9 seconds to go.
Reid then got trapped in the next play by Alaska’s defense, and his pass to center Beau Belga was intercepted by Dondon Hontiveros, but Lee quickly recovered the leather and was fouled by Walker.
With 12.7 seconds to play, Lee calmly sank the pair of pressure-packed foul shots, giving the Painters a three-point cushion, 97-94.
Walker missed a game-tying triple try before the final buzzer sounded.
“We’re done with Alaska. I’m glad we’re done with them,” said the Painters’ Coach Yeng Guiao, who was congratulated by Walker – whom he called a “bully” right after Game 4 – after the game.
Rain or Shine forced the sudden-death with a 123-121 overtime win in Game 4 last Thursday.
“Alaska just showed a lot of guts, a lot of tenacity. We couldn’t shake them off, but we just maintained our composure,” added Guiao.
Alaska missed three key starters because of injuries they sustained in Game 4 – guard Jvee Casio (left leg), center Sonny Thoss (back spasm) and forward Gabby Espinas (fractured right foot) – but still showed a lot of fighting heart and Alaska nearly pulled it behind Walker, who had 29 points.
Vic Manuel and Hontiveros gave Walker a solid backing with 20 and 17 points, respectively, but it wasn’t enough to stop Rain or Shine from moving to the finals for the second time this conference and fourth overall in franchise history in the last seven conferences.
Next up is a scrappy San Mig squad that displayed a lot of character in ousting Talk ‘N Text last Friday.