2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: February 7-8, 2014

The 2013-2014 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals continued in dramatic fashion this weekend, with the Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters booting the Petron Blaze Boosters out of contention, while the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers snuck past the Ginebra Gin Kings in Game 5.

This past Friday, Rain or Shine beat Petron Blaza, 97-88, with Beau Belga was in fine form, pumping in 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 2 triples as the Painters finished off the Boosters. This was Belga’s highest scoring output of the season since dropping 20 markers on Meralco in late November 2013. Belga was at his very best against fellow Gilas national pool member June Mar Fajardo, who reeled in a 16-16 double-double. Belga showed his versatility in hitting from long range and driving to the hole. His most memorable moment here was in the payoff period, driving past a Petron double-team before hanging in the air, absorbing contact from Chris Lutz, and making the basket. And, of course, in classic Beau Belga fashion, he celebrated with finger guns afterwards.

Beau Belga's finger guns. Yes -- finger guns.

Petron Blaze put up a good fight in Game 5, but in the end the team that wanted the win more prevailed. Throughout most of the current conference, it seemed like coach Gee Abanilla’s Boosters were the most impressive unit, even winning their first seven games before June Mar Fajardo’s injury contributed to their slide afterwards. During this series, however, the Boosters looked predictable and disturbingly absent of any sense of urgency. Petron is arguably the deepest team in the league, but this result further fuels the sentiment a lot of PBA observers already have — that what Petron possesses in talent, they lack in heart.

Wingman Trio: Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, and Ryan Araña all rattled in great games here, outgunning their more ballyhooed counterparts on the Petron side. That trio combined for 6 triples and 43 points as the Painters booked their second straight Philippine Cup Finals appearance (they lost to Talk N Text in 2013). Chan also added a season-high 9 rebounds, while Lee and Araña each chipped in 3 assists to bolster the cause of Rain or Shine, which missed the services of coach Yeng Guiao. Guiao was suspended after Game 4 and was fined PhP 100,000.

In yesterday afternoon’s critical Game 5 encounter, San Mig Super Coffee overcame Ginebra, 79-76.

Prior to his final field goal attempt of the ballgame, James Yap missed 12 of his 14 shots from the floor. He had just 7 points along with 3 turnovers. In short, the Man with a Million Moves wasn’t exactly having a millionaire’s afternoon in Game 5. Yap, however, isn’t a percentages kind of guy. He likes the big moments, hence his other moniker — Big Game James. He lived up to it here, nailing the game-winning three-point shot over Mac Baracael with around 13 seconds left. This made up for his potentially game-tying miss in Game 4. Big time moments call for big time players, and, this time, Yap delivered.

When Jay-R Reyes is the only starter to score in double-digits for your team, that’s a sign that something is amiss. Reyes shot 5/6 from the field to drill in 11 points as he started in place of the struggling Japeth Aguilar, who finished with 9 markers off the pine. The other Ginebra starters — Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Mark Caguioa, and Mac Baracael — all encountered difficulty finding the bottom of the hole here, combining for a total of just 29 points. Nobody out of the four scored more than 9 points. They shot a combined 11/42 (26%) from the field. Ugh.

Standing Tall: No one really thinks Rafi Reavis is among the best big men in the country, but the fact is he is, at least in terms of numbers, pretty solid. He averages around 5.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in just 18 minutes of action per game. He shoots 59% from the field and plays strong defense while averaging just over 2 fouls per game. Again, he’s solid. In game 5, he shone, too, shooting 5/6 from the field (including a key undergoal stab in the dying minutes) to finish with 10 points on top of 7 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks (did you see that clean one against Greg Slaughter late in the fourth?).

Game Recaps:
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters marched back to the finals of the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup with a 97-88 victory over the Petron Blaze Boosters in Game Five of their semis series on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win, the Elasto Painters’ 12th in their last 13 games, clinched the best-of-seven series for Rain or Shine, 4-1.

Rain or Shine won despite missing coach Yeng Guiao, who served out a one-game suspension.

Center Beau Belga, who led the way for Rain or Shine with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, dedicated the game to Guiao.

“Para sa ‘yo to Coach. Mahal ka namin, kaya kami naglalaro ng ganito,” said Belga.

“The players really wanted to win the game today,” said Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who called the shots in lieu of Guiao.

“The system is the system, kahit sino humawak, credit still goes to Coach Yeng.”

The fiery coach, who watched from his home in Pampanga, was in communication with Garcia at halftime.

“Pinaalala ni Coach Yeng mga flaws namin ng first half. Pinaalala nya to be agressive on defense,” said Garcia.

Petron, fighting to stay alive, controlled the early part of the game, opening up double-digit leads in the first half. But Rain or Shine remained poised, staying within striking distance the whole time.

The Boosters were still up by six points, 69-63, late in the third period, before the Elasto Painters unleashed an 11-0 run to grab the advantage.

The game remained a nip-and-tuck affair with Petron still leading, 80-79, on a jumper by June Mar Fajardo.

But Rain or Shine rattled off the next 10 points of the game to take an 89-80 spread. That proved to be the knockout punch as the Boosters, overwhelmed by the Elasto Painters’ depth, could not muster enough energy to put together a rally.

The Elasto Painters will be making their second consecutive trip to the Philippine Cup finals after getting swept by Talk ‘N Text last season. They await the winner of the Manila Clasico semifinals series between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, which is currently tied at 2-all.

ROS 97 – Belga 18, Chan 17, Lee 16, Arana 10, Norwood 9, Rodriguez 8, Cruz 6, Quinahan 5, Tang 4, Almazan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Teng 0, Ibanes 0.
PET 88 – Santos 20, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 16, Kramer 8, Cabagnot 8, Hubalde 6, Tubid 5, Ross 4, Lutz 2, Taha 1.
QS: 22-31, 45-52, 72-69, 97-88

Arwind Santos tried to carry Petron in vain.

Jeff Chan drives past Chris Lutz.

Paul Lee rises for the lay-up.

James Yap hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to lift the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers to a thrilling 79-76 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game Five of their PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup semifinals series on Saturday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Manila Clasico, it should come down to the last possession,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, who drew up the play for Mark Barroca to feed Yap for the shot. “Nice pass by Mark, James got the shot.”

The victory gave the Mixers a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven affair. San Mig Coffee can close out the series on Monday also at the Big Dome, with Rain or Shine waiting in the wings as the first finalist in the tournament.

It was a tight contest for most of the game, with the score still tied at 57-all late in the third period. But San Mig Coffee once again drew a spark from the backcourt combination of Mark Barroca and Justin Melton, who led a 9-0 attack that gave their team a 66-57 lead.

San Mig Coffee still led, 70-69, before Japeth Aguilar scored five of the next six points for Ginebra to cut the deficit to a single point.

Yap replied with a layup for San Mig Coffee, but Chris Ellis answered right back with a three-pointer for Ginebra to tie the game at 72-all.

Rafi Reavis scored to give the Mixers back the lead, before Greg Slaughter hit a putback a couple of plays later to tie the game anew, 74-all, with 52 seconds remaining.

Marc Pingris drew a foul from Slaughter in the ensuing possession, but made only one of two free throws for a 75-74 edge with 40 seconds left.

Ellis nailed a fadeaway jumper in Ginebra’s next play to put the Gin Kings up, 76-75, with 22.9 seconds remaining.

But the Mixers remained poised, perfectly executing coach Tim Cone’s play to set up Yap’s winning jumper from the left wing. It was redemption for Yap, who struggled on 3-of-15 shooting from the field.

Ginebra had a chance to tie the game, but LA Tenorio was well-defended in his layup attempt in the next play.

“Mark played wonderful defense on LA on that possession,” said Cone.

Justin Melton recovered the miss and was fouled. He split his free throws for a 79-76 lead with seven seconds left, giving Ginebra one last shot. But with Ginebra needing a three-point shot, Tenorio took the ball all the way to the basket, missing another layup to end the game.

“You get caught up in the moment. I wasn’t also sure if we’re up by two or three,” said Cone in defense of Tenorio, whom he coached at Alaska. “LA’s one of the smartest players I’ve been around.”

Barroca scored 14 points to lead five San Mig Coffee players in double-figures.

Ellis finished with 20 points, while Jay-R Reyes added 11. But no other Ginebra player scored in double-digits. The Gin Kings as a whole shot just 35.8 percent from the field.

Despite the series advantage, Cone played down any idea that the series is over.

“It’s just a one-game lead,” said Cone. “This game doesn’t mean much, but we gotta finish it off.”

SMC 79 – Barroca 14, Pingris 12, Simon 10, Reavis 10, Yap 10, Mallari 8, Devance 7, Sangalang 6, Melton 2.
GIN 76 – Ellis 20, Reyes 11, Aguilar 9, Slaughter 9, Tenorio 9, Caguioa 6, Baracael 5, Helterbrand 5, Mamaril 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.
QS: 21-21, 46-44, 62-57, 79-76

Greg Slaughter struggled anew in Game 5.

This was James Yap's game-winning trey.

LA Tenorio's decision-making in the endgame was put under the microscope.

Source: Unless otherwise specified, game recaps were compressed and compiled from InterAKTV. (Writing credit to Rey Joble)

Images: Unless otherwise specified, images are from the PBA and Sports 5. (Photo credit to Paul Ryan Tan and Nuki Sabio)

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