RAIN OR SHINE CLAIMS LAST SEMIS BERTH

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Thrice dealt a bitter loss by Barangay Ginebra in the conference, Rain or Shine had the last laugh with the Elasto Painters winning their knockout match Sunday to salvage the last slot in the PBA Philippine Cup Final Four.

Riding high on the exploits of Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood, the Elasto Painters disposed of the Kings, 102-89, to arrange a best-of-seven semifinal showdown with the San Mig Coffee Mixers beginning with Game One Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

It’s a rematch of the last Governors Cup finals, and it’s expected to be another classic playoff series.

“It’s going to be a battle all the way, maybe again going down to a deciding Game Seven,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, recalling their recent title series with coach Tim Cone and his troops that went the full distance.

What was expected to be tight do-or-die faceoff between Rain or Shine and Ginebra turned to be a rout as Paul Lee presided over the Kings’ vicious attack in the third quarter.

The 2011-12 Rookie of the Year awardee helped fuel a decisive 23-0 tear giving the Elasto Painters a 72-51 spread in the third canto.

Ginebra, which thrice stunned Rain or Shine in the conference with a come-from-behind winning effort, posed another threat but the Elasto Painters won’t be frustrated with the conference on the line.

“We had to do it the hard way. We took the longer route, but we made our destination anyway. Medyo tumagal pero we learned a lot of things from the (Game Two) setback,” said Guiao.

“We were kind of surprised by the zone they threw at us, pero pinaghandaan namin (this time),” Guiao added.

“Motivation namin yung pagkakamali namin (in Game Two). Kasi may mga di kami nagawa sa Game Two gaya ng box out at saka depensa,” said Lee.

The former University of the East standout took charge as the E-Painters set the tone of the game in the third period after being dragged to a battle by the Kings in the first half.

Lee, held to five points in the first 24 minutes of play, sizzled with 14 in the third quarter, then added six more in the fourth quarter as he proved to be a huge factor after the Rain or Shine was stalled by Ginebra, 77-79, in Game Two Friday.

Gabe Norwood stepped up and provided the needed support while Jeff Chan continued to bleed for his points.

The 6-foot-5 Fil-Am forward went 7-of-8 from the field for 21 markers that went with six assists and four rebounds.

Chan struggled with 1-of-9 field goal shooting on the way to a five-point output.

“When Jeff was not hitting his shots, the other guys stepped up,” said Guiao, very satisfied with his team’s performance.

“This is a young team but the toughness is right there,” Guiao also said. (SB)

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