|"Big Game James" made an encore in a do-or-die game. PBA Media Bureau|
By Dugout Philippines
PASAY--Rain or Shine fought with a dogged determination to defend its top seeding, and did repel GlobalPort, 103-97, to nail a first PBA Final Four passage in six conferences Thursday night at the MOA Arena.
Reggie Johnson churned out a Best Import performance while James Yap recalled his MVP form to lead the Elasto Painters past the Batang Pier and into a best-of-five semis showdown with the Barangay Ginebra Kings.
The whole ROS team simply refused to budge an inch after blowing its first crack at the semis.
"I'm proud of the players that after losing the first game, some team would just give up. But these guys came out and played good," said ROS coach Caloy Garcia.
"Hats off to James. It is the best game he has played for our team," Garcia also said, making special mention of Yap who exploded with a personal four-season best of 27 points spiked by seven three-pointers.
"Nasa isip ko yung talo namin noon with (then the top-seeded) BMeg against Powerade. Masakit yon at ayaw kong maulit," said Yap.
The two-time MVP winner rattled in 3-of-3 three-pointers to help ROS to a 46-38 lead at the half. Then he added four more in the final half, including two in a key run that opened a 16-point spread for the E-Painters at 86-70 entering the last five minutes of the contest.
Johnson played as big with 29 points and 15 rebounds. Also critical was Johnson sending GlobalPort counterpart Malcolm White to early foul-trouble situation.
Upended the last time, 113-114, Yap, Johnson and the rest of the ROS team simply refused to be beat two in a row, and thus completed the Final Four cast with San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Alaska Milk.
The E-Painters and the Gin Kings start their side of the Final Four faceoff at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Turning back the hands of time, Yap went 9-of-17 from the field and also came through with five rebounds and one steal in 33 minutes of action. He was 7-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Raymond Almazan and Chris Tiu contributed 16 and 12 markers, respectively, as the E-Painters foiled the Batang Pier's upset bid.
Yap and Jewel Ponferada strung up three straight treys as the E-Painters built a 16-point spread at 86-70 entering the last five minutes of the game.
Even then, the Batang Pier refused to give up but couldn't come closer than four points inside the final minute.
Rain or Shine 103 - Johnson 29, Yap 27, Almazan 16, Tiu 12, Norwood 7, Belga 7, Ponferada 3, Daquioag 2, Ahanmisi 0, Borboran 0.
GlobalPort 97 - Pringle 23, Javelona 18, White 12, Grey 10, Anthony 10, Tautuaa 7, Taha 6, Teng 3, Espinas 2, Elorde 2, Gabayni 2.
Quarters: 24-22, 46-38, 75-67, 103-97
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