After being benched late in their quarterfinal opener, James Yap had the best response possible on Thursday night.
The 36-year-old turned back the hands of time, scoring 27 points to help the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters repel the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 103-97, to book a meeting with the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
The Elasto Painters will head into the semis for the first time under head coach Caloy Garcia.
This is Yap’s best outing so far in an Elasto Painters jersey. This is also his highest output in four seasons, and the seven treys he hit tonight matched his career-high in three-pointers, according to stats chief Fidel Mangonon.
“Hats off to James. It was the best game he played for our team,” praised Garcia of the two-time league MVP. “Last game he played so well, but I told him that I didn’t use him on the fourth, but it’s a blessing he came out better. And I should expect the same thing when we play Ginebra.”
Yap’s outing was nearly spoiled, though.
The Elasto Painters had a comfortable lead, 99-88, with 1:39 to go in the game, but the Batang Pier made a major scare by pulling off a 9-2 rally – capped by Stanley Pringle’s trey – to inch within distance, 97-101, with 45 ticks left.
They tried to go nearer, but the breaks didn’t go in their favor and they failed to convert more points. Gabe Norwood’s perfect shots from the charity stripe with 10 seconds left to play sealed the victory for Rain or Shine.
But even with the win, Garcia was left fuming with rage.
“Feels good to win but I’m not satisfied with how the game ended. We didn’t get any calls in the fourth. Everything they do is bump, yet they don’t call anything,” said a seething Garcia. “It’s a terrible officiating in the fourth.”
Import Reggie Johnson top-scored for Rain or Shine with 27 points, along with 15 rebounds and six assists. Raymond Almazan had 16 points and six boards, while Chris Tiu supplied 12 markers and three dimes.
Pringle led the Batang Pier with 23 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Pao Javelona contributed a career-high 18 points, while import Malcolm White added 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds.
Jonathan Grey – the hero last game, when he sank the game-winning triple to finish the night with 21 points – was limited to just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Rain or Shine-Ginebra best-of-five semis series will start on Saturday, July 14, 6:30 PM still at the MoA Arena.
Rain or Shine 103 – Johnson 29, Yap 27, Almazan 16, Tiu 12, Norwood 7, Belga 7, Ponferada 3, Daquioag 2, Ahanmisi 0, Borboran 0.
GlobalPort 97 – Pringle 23, Javelona 18, White 12, Grey 10, Anthony 10, Tautuaa 7, Taha 6, Teng 3, Espinas 2, Elorde 2, Guinto 2, Gabayni 2.
Quarterscores: 24-22, 46-38, 75-67, 103-97