By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are moving to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup after eliminating at the first instance the undermanned Northport Batang Pier, 91-85, in quarterfinal action on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Holding a twice-to-beat advantage in the last eight after finishing second in the elimination round of the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament, the Elasto Painters saw no need to use it as they did a good job in dictating the tempo of the contest when they got their footing on their way to the big win.
Ed Daquioag and Rey Nambatac led a balanced Rain or Shine attack as they fended off a gallant stand by Northport, which played sans key cog Sean Anthony who was out of commission because of a groin injury.
The Elasto Painters had a slow start, feeling the ill effects of a long layoff heading into the quarterfinals, having finished their elimination assignment as early as March 15.
They trailed the Batang Pier, 17-14, after the first 12 minutes.
In the second quarter, however, Rain or Shine started humming with Mr. Nambatac and Maverick Ahanmisi leading the charge. They would outscore Northport, 29-16, in the second canto to overtake the latter, 43-33, by the halftime break.
The Elasto Painters continued to hold sway in the third canto but encountered some trouble as the Batang Pier made some headway in narrowing the gap on the lead of Mo Tautuaa, coming to within three points, 62-59, with 2:32 to go.
But Messrs. Daquioag and Nambatac jolted their team to a strong finish in the third to extend their lead to 73-62 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the payoff quarter, Rain or Shine kept the pressure on Northport, not allowing the Batang Pier to gain any big traction for a comeback, eventually closing out the game and booking the semifinal spot.
Mr. Daquioag finished with 15 points with Mr. Nambatac adding 14 of his own.
Beau Belga wound up with 13 markers for Rain or Shine, the first team to book a semifinal seat.
Northport, meanwhile, was paced by Mr. Tautuaa with 24 points, followed by Garvo Lanete with 20.
“We set our mindset for the quarterfinals during our long break and we talked about not letting this opportunity go since we are already here,” said Mr. Nambatac after the game.
Meanwhile, the best-of-three quarterfinal brackets of the Philippine Cup resume play today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and San Miguel Beermen looking to close out their respective series after drawing first blood in the opener on Saturday.
Barangay Ginebra got the better of the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 86-75, in Game One of their “Manila Clasico” quarterfinals while San Miguel edged the TNT KaTropa, 80-78.
The Kings, who will take on the Hotshots in the scheduled 4:30 match, used a strong second-quarter effort to dictate the contest and secure the 1-0 series lead.
It was a total team effort for Barangay Ginebra, with at least five players scoring in double-digits.
Greg Slaughter was the high point man with 15 points, to go along with 12 rebounds, with Arthur Dela Cruz chipping in 14 off the bench.
Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson each had 12 while LA Tenorio had 10 points and seven assists.
For Magnolia it was Paul Lee who showed the way with 15 points with Ian Sangalang adding 14.
“We really haven’t done anything yet with this win. We just put ourselves in a situation where we are now twice-to-beat. It doesn’t guarantee us anything but this an important win nonetheless,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone after their win.
If the Kings close out their series today they will meet Rain or Shine in the semifinals.
San Miguel, for its part, started slow but picked things up as the game progressed to squeak past TNT.
Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo and Terrence each had 15 points to tow their team to the victory and the 1-0 series advantage.
Troy Rosario, meanwhile, had 23 markers to lead the KaTropa.
The San Miguel-TNT game is set for 7 p.m.