Petron ousts RoS, forges finals showdown with San Mig
MANILA – Petron Blaze ended Rain or Shine’s reign and nurtured its own hope to reclaim the PBA Governors Cup crown with an overpowering third quarter that propelled the Boosters past the E-Painters and into the finals versus the San Mig Coffee Mixers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Monday night.
Elijah Millsap and his teammates slammed the Elasto Painters with a 16-0 opening salvo in the second half and roared to a 110-89 win that sealed their first finals in the last six conferences.
“We can dream big now,” said Gee Abanilla, steering Petron to the best-of-seven finals in his first conference as bench chieftain of the team.
“We’re living a dream. It’s a good opportunity and we should never stop here,” Abanilla also said.
In dethroning the E-Painters, Abanilla and his troops set up a title showdown with coach Tim Cone and his chargers.
It’s a first championship duel between the two teams since their titular faceoff in the same conference 13 years ago. The then Derrick Brown-reinforced Purefoods squad topped the Lamont Strothers-led San Miguel Beer team, 4-1, for the crown.
Millsap and Alex Cabagnot came out firing from the halftime huddle then Marcio Lassiter took over in the fourth quarter as the Boosters finished off the E-Painters in Game Four of their best-of-five semis duel.
“You have to give it to them too. They pushed as to the limit. Despite all their health woes, they fought as tooth and nail in the series,” said Abanilla.
He saved his best words for coach Yeng Guiao, saying: “Aside from the leadership I learned from coach Yeng, I also learned to be competitor from him. Dapat 101 percent kung pu-pwede.
The two teams fought through close battles in the first three games of the series.
They were again engaged in a neck-and-neck battle before Millsap and Cabagnot starred in their blazing start in the second half.
Then Lassiter bombed away big 3-pointers as the E-Painters waged mini-fightbacks in the payoff period.
Petron gained its 27th finals overall with a shot at a 20th title.
Millsap tossed in 18 points in the third period and finished with 34 that went with eight rebounds and three assists, Lassiter fired a total of seven treys (career-high) and ended up with 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Cabagnot added 23 markers, eight assists, four boards and two steals.
“I just felt it. When the first went it, I just kept on shooting. It’s a good night to shoot the lights,” said Lassiter.
The Boosters went 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from the stripe – with no turnover – in their 16-to-nothing run breaking the game open at 62-40.
Petron stretched the lead to 25 at 70-55 but Rain or Shine still refused to give up.
As the E-Painters came to within 10 at 80-70, Lassiter fired back-to-back treys to ease the pressure.
Usually efficient with an average of just 14.3 errors a game (tournament best), the E-Painters gave away 15 just in the first half in this match and stared at a six-point deficit, 40-46, at the turn.
The E-Painters battled the Boosters through five deadlocks and 12 lead changes before fading away.
Arizona Reid knocked in a trey then ran a fastbreak play for Ryan Arana as Rain or Shine took the opening quarter at 25-24.
Petron 110 – Millsap 34, Lassiter 27, Cabagnot 23, Fajardo 9, Santos 8, Lutz 2, Kramer 2, Miranda 2, Tubid 2, Lanete 1, Isip 0.
Rain or Shine 89 – Reid 41, Belga 10, Arana 9, Quinahan 7, Norwood 6, Tang 5, Ibanes 5, Tiu 3, Matias 3, Uyloan 0, Cruz 0, Chan 0.
Quarterscores: 24-25, 46-40, 80-65, 110-89