Up by as much as 25 points in the first half, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters took care of business after squandering the lead late in regulation as they eliminated the Barako Bull Energy Cola in double overtime, 134-132 and advance to the PBA Semis held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
A contrasting start to the game as the third-seeded Elasto Painters team rushed to an 11-3 start with Wendell McKines accounting for all the points of his team in the stretch. Meanwhile, Barako Bull had a tough time finding the bottom of the rim as they only made one shot out of their first eight attempts from the field. This enabled the Painters to cruise to an early double-digit advantage thanks to the sizzling first period anchored by their reinforcement.
In the dying minutes of the quarter, the lead ballooned to as high as 21 at 35-14, with Paul Lee, Chris Tiu and JR Quiñahan providing the damage against the struggling Energy Cola. A 11-5 start by Energy Cola seemed to wake the squad up from their poor start but Ryan Araña drained in two triples to halt the run and put Rain or Shine in full control once again. With momentum still favoring the Painters, they erected a 25 point lead after Jericho Cruz’ jump shot.
After that point, the Energy Cola started to mount their comeback and close out the first half with a 19-4 rampage in the last 5 ½ minutes of the second quarter. They went almost exclusively to Liam McMorrow, and their behemoth import provided the baskets to slice the lead down to 10 entering halftime. With the headway they made in the second quarter, Barako flirted to break the nine-point barrier but failed to do as ROS made a good job maintaining the seemingly-comfortable cushion.
The offensive barrage continued in favor of Barako as they opened the final frame of action with a 13-6 run with McMorrow manning the paint and the other locals scoring from outside. Rain or Shine, on the other hand, struggled in containing their turnovers and fouls that led to quick points on the other end. Gabe Norwood and Chris Tiu punched in run-breaking fieldgoals to restore an eight point gap at 100-92. However in the next three minutes, Barako used an 11-3 counter to tie things up at 103 with Lanete scoring big in the pivotal period.
Barako even took the lead after a couple of possessions but McKines delivered in the dying seconds to give ROS a slim lead at 111-109. Barako extended the game with McMorrow providing the dunk to tie the game and force the first overtime. In the 1st OT, the Painters led again by six early with Paul Lee catching fire late but Lanete’s three free throws and a JC Intal triple tie things up at 122 once again.
In the last minute of the first overtime, McKines threw down a dunk but Joseph Yeo’s clutch charity shots tied it for yet another time. After Gabe Norwood threw a wasted possession away, RR Garcia missed a potential game-winning jumpshot at the buzzer. Fast forward to the second overtime, the game was still up for grabs with less than a minute to play as the scoreboard displayed a deadlocked game at 132. With gassed-looking players fighting down the stretch, Paul Lee knocked down the lead-giving jumper with 7 ticks to play. After giving their foul to give, ROS survived with one last stop on the other end as Chico Lanete missed his own jumper.
McKines scores 36 pts in the win while also grabbing 15 rebounds in 50 minutes of action. Lee added 23 points including six triples, eight boards and seven dimes. ROS was plus 15 from downtown while also dishing out more assists, 37-27 and shot the ball way better, 56% compared to Barako’s 44% clip.
Rain or Shine advances to semis and awaits the winner of the quarters match between the San Miguel Beermen and Meralco Bolts to be played right after this game.
Rain or Shine (134) – McKines 36, Lee 23, Tiu 14, Arana 12, Chan 12, Belga 11, Norwood 8, Almazan 7, Quinahan 5, Tang 4, Cruz 2, Cruz 0, Ibanes 0, Uyloan 0, Teng 0
Barako Bull(132) – McMorrow 32, Garcia 25, Wilson 16, Intal 16, Yeo 16, Lanete 10, Pascual 8 Salva 4, Hubalde 2, Maierhofer 2, Hubalde 2, Chua 1, Salvador 0
Quarterscores: 35-16, 60-50, 86-73, 101-101, 124-124, 134-132