Rain or Shine bucks loss of Lee to take Game 3

Rain or Shine has lost its ace playmaker but not its collective indomitable spirit.

With sweet-shooting Jeff Chan hitting his full stride, the E-Painters turned up the heat offensively in the third quarter to hack out a convincing 93-84 victory over the B-Meg Llamados Friday night and seize the upper hand anew in their best-of-seven PBA Governors Cup finals showdown at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Chan pumped in all of his 18 points in the second half while four other teammates contributed at least 10 markers apiece to help the E-Painters bucked the absence of sensational rookie Paul Lee with a torrid third quarter onslaught that enabled them to take a 2-1 series lead.

Import Jamelle Cornley waxed hot all game long with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists while Jireh Ibanes collected 12, Ronjay Buenafe added 11 and Gabe Norwood 10, enough to fill the huge hole left by Lee, who showed up with a sling on his left shoulder which he dislocated in their 80-85 Game 2 defeat last Wednesday.

“We just played as hard as we can tonight without Paul,” noted Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, whose wards outscored their counterparts 30-14 in the third quarter. “I thought the biggest thing we could do is play as hard as we can. The boys know this is our destiny. They played with a lot of toughness that comes from the inside.”

Reserve guard Jonas Villanueva paced the Llamados with 18 points, 12 coming in the second half, but B-Meg’s 1-2 scoring punch – former two-time MVP James Yap and PJ Simon – failed to deliver this time, and were reduced to mere spectators practically in the second half.

Yap, who shone in Game 2 with 24 points, struggled for seven points while backcourt buddy Simon was held down to just four markers. Add to that scoring woes was import Marqus Blakely, who was held down to just 13 markers, a far cry from his 26-point, 16-rebound outing in Game 2.

B-Meg coach Tim Cone pointed to his team’s rougher road to the finals as the culprit to his top players’ lackluster outing, saying: “We were worn out. I just felt they need some rest to put them back to the basketball game. If we can steal some rest time and make them mentally fresh. Hopefully on Sunday, we can play the way we want to play.”

Holding a precarious 40-38 lead at the break, the E-Painters scored the 11 of the first 17 points in the third before Chan drained the next nine points for RoS, laced by two booming treys, for a 60-48 spread.

Ryan Arana, another lefty, joined the fray and also hit two triples as RoS took full control with a whopping 70-52 bubble entering the final 12 minutes.

After another trey from Chan gave the E-Painters a comfortable 75-54 cushion early in the fourth, the Llamados, working behind their shock troopers led by Villanueva, tried to mount a comeback, dropping 11 consecutive unanswered points that cut the deficit to 65-75 at the 8:32 mark, forcing Guiao to sue for time.
Buenafe and Cornley, however, quelled off B-Meg’s searing rally with an 8-2 counterattcak and the E-Painters managed to hold on from then on.

“This is the best place to be 2-1 at this point in this series,” added Guiao.

Cone, who refused to field his starters back during their scorching fourth quarter fightback, defended his decision, saying: “I can’t worry about what people think. My job is not to make the crowd happy. My job is to win championship for the organization.”

RAIN OR SHINE 93 – Cornley 26, Chan 18, Ibanes 12, Buenafe 11, Norwood 10, Tang 6, Arana 6, Belga 4, Cruz 0, Quinahan 0
B-MEG 84 – Villanueva 18, Blakely 13, De Ocampo 13, Pingris 9, Yap 7, Barroca 6, Reavis 6, Gaco 4, Urbiztondo 4, Simon 4, Acuna 0
Quarters: 19-23, 40-38, 70-52, 93-84


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