ONCE again, Jeff Chan reminded everyone of his clutch-shooting genes.
Chan hit the crucial shots to help Rain or Shine pull off a come-from-behind 98-94 triumph over top seed San Miguel Beer in Game 1 of their best-of-seven semifinal series in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
Chan scored five points in the final two minutes, including a vital go-ahead triple from the left elbow that gave Rain or Shine a pivotal 95-94 edge going into the final minute.
From there, the Beermen weren’t able to answer, while rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, who played big all game long, knocked down four free throws in the final minute to seal the Painters’ victory and give them a 1-0 series lead.
Ahanmisi had a career night, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds on top of four assists to power Rain or Shine, which trailed for the first three quarters before completing a methodical comeback in the final period to snatch the win.
“It’s just one of those comebacks that will linger in your memory,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “I almost gave up on the guys, but the guys did not give up on me.”
Game 2 is scheduled tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the same venue as the Elasto Painters shoot for a bigger 2-0 lead.
The Beermen, on the other hand, will aim for the equalizer.
San Miguel Beer led by double-digits for almost the entire first half, zooming to a huge 33-17 cushion at the end of one and a 50-40 lead at the half following the hot start.
But the composed Elasto Painters remained patient, before they slowly but surely chipped away at San Miguel’s lead until finally taking the driver’s seat down the stretch with the game on the line.
San Miguel had no response to Rain or Shine’s second-half rally as the Painters’ relentless attack on both ends helped their cause.
Tyler Wilkerson led all scorers, pacing San Miguel with his 40 points.
Meanwhile, Meralco and Alaska are set to kick-off their own best-of-seven semis clash today at 7 p.m., also at the Big Dome.
RAIN OR SHINE 98 – Ahanmisi 23, Henderson-Niles 13, Cruz 11, Chan 10, Almazan 8, Lee 8, Norwood 8, Quinahan 7, Belga 4, Ponferada 4, Tiu 2, Ibanes 0, Nimes 0.
SAN MIGUEL 94 – Wilkerson 40, Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 15, Ross 7, Lassiter 3, Santos 3, Tubid 3, Espinas 0, Lutz 0.
Quarters: 4-14, 40-50, 72-75, 98-94
(Smart Araneta Coliseum):
7 p.m. – Meralco vs. Alaska