by Jonas Terrado
Rey Nambatac came through with another clutch shot as Rain or Shine outlasted Blackwater, 85-83, in a thrilling conclusion of their own best-of-three quarters to reach the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Nambatac broke an 83-all tie by nailing a jumper with 18.5 seconds left before the Elasto Painters saw rookie Ray Parks Jr. missed a go-ahead three and import Greg Smith muffing a tying basket to arrange a best-of-five duel with the San Miguel Beermen.
Coach Caloy Garcia, who has handled Nambatac at Letran in the NCAA and Racal in the PBA D-League, praised his long-time player for the maturity displayed in the rubber match.
“Nambatac carried us in this game. Lumalabas maturity niya,” said Garcia of Nambatac, who finished with 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals in 33 minutes.
Rookie Javee Mocon had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists and import Carl Montgomery posted 14 points and 23 rebounds for the Elasto Painters, who will take a short breather before facing the Beermen in the opener set Saturday at the Big Dome.
Rain or Shine won despite trailing 45-32 late in the second quarter and 73-65 in the fourth.
But the Elasto Painters refused to quit and went on a 17-2 run with Nambatac in charge to make it 82-75 with less than two minutes to go in the fourth.
The Elite’s Mac Belo, however, relived his old days at Far Eastern University and hit two triples, the last tying the count at 83-all with 36 seconds left.
Belo produced 16 points in a losing cause as Parks shot a dismal 5-of-17 from the field despite having the same number of points.
RAIN OR SHINE 85 — Nambatac 21, Mocon 15, Montgomery 14, Belga 10, Norwood 7, Ponferada 6, Torres 5, Rosales 4, Borboran 3, Onwubere 0, Alejandro 0.
BLACKWATER 83 — Parks 16, Belo 16, Smith 15, Maliksi 14, Cortez 10, Digregorio 5, Desiderio 3, Sumang 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Sena 0.
Quarters: 23-31; 38-45; 65-69; 85-83.