Rain or Shine a win away of entering the finals with a hard-fought victory over the Blaze Boosters

Rain or Shine Elasto Painters overcome the loss of head coach Yeng Guiao and top playmaker Paul Lee as well as a more determined Petron big man in June Mar Fajardo to earn a hard-fought 88-83 win over the Petron Blaze Boosters on Monday night on the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup SemiFinals.
The win gave Rain or Shine a 3-1 commanding lead of the race to four win affair despite losing Lee to injury in the second quarter and an ejection on coach Yeng in the third period before curving out a victory.
“The guys just did not give up. They won this game on their own. I have nothing to do with this victory,” said Guiao.
“They lost Paul, they lost me, but they kept their fighting hearts with them. We beat them against the odds.”
With the game going neck-to-neck, the former UC standout Fajardo tied the game with a three-point play at 82-all with still 5:50 to play. Jeff Chan responded with a layup to give Rain or Shine the edge, 84-82.
Out-played and battered by big man Fajardo for most of the game, Beau Belga had the last laugh when he buried a three-pointer from the deep right corner in a critical, late-game run that gave the Elasto Painters a five-point cushion at 87-82 with just 1:53 remaining, with neither teams scoring until Bega's conversion.
With Fajardo tiring down because he is the focal point of Petron's offense, the Elasto Painters silenced the rest of the Boosters, who didn’t score again until Chris Lutz hit one of two free throws with 21.4 seconds left.
A free throw from Gabe Norwood, and a barrage of misses from Petron, in the endgame sealed the Rain or Shine's win with its 11th win over its last 12 games. 
Guiao moved within a win of another Finals shot at his first-ever all-Filipino championship but was no longer around to see the fiercely fought ending, having been tossed out for a second technical for complaining for the second successive game in the series.
Former Rookie of the Year Lee also missed out on the second half after suffering a sprained ankle late in the first half while trying to stop Petron guard Chris Ross during a fastbreak play. 
"The guys just did not give up. They won it on their own. I had nothing to do with this victory,” said Guiao, who was ejected for a second technical foul in the third quarter.
Ryan Arana picked up the slack for Lee by scoring 12 points, while Jeff Chan scored nine of his 11 points in the crucial third period to give Rain or Shine an added boost. Jireh Ibanes contribured 11 points while Gabe Norwood chipped in 10 for the Elasto Painters, who found good balance with nine players scoring at least six points for the team.
Belga scored his only points of the game on the three-pointer with one minute and 53 seconds remaining.
Coming off a 73-106 defeat in Game Three, the Painters stayed toe-to-toe with the Painters this time in a game that saw 10 lead changes and eight deadlocks.
Defense once again proved to be the difference as the Painters forced the Boosters 28 turnovers that turned into 21 points.
“I thought there were a lot of bad calls. Any team made of softer material would have folded up. It’s a testimony to the character of the guys,” said Guiao, who paid tribute to assistant coach Caloy Garcia for taking over after the ejection.

“I take my hat off to Coach Caloy for not giving up where I gave up.”
Fajardo registered monster numbers of 27 points, 14 boards, and two blocks, but appeared to have loss gas in the endgame as he had only four minutes of rest and got little help from his teammates.
Aside from Chris Lutz who went 3-of-5, the rest of the Boosters shot miserably from beyond the arc, going just 3-of-20 (15 percent).
Rain or Shine has a chance to wrap up the series and make a return trip to the finals in Game Five on Friday also at the Big Dome.
The scores:
Rain or Shine (88) – Arana 12, Chan 11, Ibanes 11, Norwood 10, Cruz 8, Rodriguez 8, Quinahan 7, Lee 7, Nuyles 6, Belga 3, Tang 3, Almazan 2, Tiu 0
Petron (83) – Fajardo 27, Santos 14, Lutz 13, Lassiter 10, Ross 9, Tubid 5, Cabagnot 5, Duncil 0, Taha 0, Kramer 0, Hubalde 0, Deutchman 0
Quarterscores: 33-28, 48-50, 72-69, 88-83
--- Jay-R U. Bayon-on
Rain or Shine a win away of entering the finals with a hard-fought victory over the Blaze Boosters Rain or Shine a win away of entering the finals with a hard-fought victory over the Blaze Boosters Reviewed by Phil Newsome on 2/04/2014 Rating: 5

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