ANTIPOLO — Just as their foes were reaching for the dagger in the very arena where they have emerged unscathed and crowned as champions, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters looked calm and collected, giving themselves a fightback of their own in Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
The Elasto Painters leaned on the marksmanship of Rey Nambatac and yet another steady performance by James Yap to fend off Magnolia, 91-81, and forge a decider for the last remaining Finals berth, Friday night at Ynares Center here.
“I just told the players to enjoy this game, to keep it simple and it worked,” said coach Caloy Garcia, whose squad managed to extend the series after falling in three consecutive meetings.
“I told them to not think about whatever happens and asked each one of them to play their game and stay relaxed,” he added.
And it showed.
Yap led all of Rain or Shine’s scorers with 16 while Nambatac and Beau Belga tossed in 15 apiece. Jewel Ponferrada added 11 more to preserve their promising start to their semifinal series.
Magnolia managed to knot the affair at 62 by the end of the third quarter, all thanks to Ian Sangalang’s showing.
But they had no answer for Nambatac, who started to catch fire from deep at the start of the final frame. From thereon, Nambatac and Yap took turns on scoring, snuffing out every ounce of counterattack the Hotshots mounted.
“Coming into Game 7, we just have to do the same,” Garcia said of their sudden-death match scheduled this Sunday at MOA Arena in Pasay.
“But Magnolia, coming into such situation, have much more experience. We just have to trust each other,” he added.
The victory snapped Magnolia’s eight-game streak at Ynares Center, where the Hotshots crowned Governor’s Cup champions last December. Their last loss came in Sept. 17, 2017, in the hands of TNT.
Rain or Shine could also deny Magnolia a chance to get back at its tormentors in last year’s all-Filipino finals.
RAIN OR SHINE 91 – Nambatac 16, Yap 16, Belga 15, Ponferada 11, Torres 8, Norwood 8, Rosales 7, Ahanmisi 5, Daquioag 2, Mocon 2, Borboran 1.
MAGNOLIA 81 – Sangalang 19, Lee 18, Jalalon 14, Herndon 9, Brondial 6, Melton 5, Reavis 4, Barroca 3, Ramos 3, Dela Rosa 0, Pascual 0, Abundo 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 41-35, 62-62, 91-81.