By JONAS TERRADO
Rey Nambatac scored a difficult shot with 2.1 seconds left to give Rain or Shine a stunning 95-93 win over San Miguel Beer Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Nambatac’s off-balanced one-hander against Marcio Lassiter, CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa allowed the Elasto Painters to make up for losing a four-point lead a few seconds earlier to produce a second straight upset victory against a title contender and improve to 6-4.
“I already designed a play that he will get the ball on the top of the key or if they got it to the post it was going to be a handoff,” said Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina.
“But Rey’s playmaking, that was all him. He got the ball and was able to go with his instincts and make that game-winning basket for us.”
But perhaps the biggest hero in the victory was rookie big man Santi Santillan, who scored 21 points and accounted for most of the baskets that allowed Rain or Shine to erase a 12-point deficit in the third quarter.
Selected fifth in the PBA Rookie Draft last March, Santillan scored all of his baskets in the second half to spark the Elasto Painters’ big follow-up to their 75-72 triumph over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots two days earlier.
Santillan’s efforts nearly went to waste as Rain or Shine squandered a 93-89 lead, ending with Perez swiping the ball away from rookie Anton Asistio before converting a layup in transition to even the count at 93-all with 12.1 seconds left.
June Mar Fajardo’s basket almost two minutes into the third brought SMB to its largest lead at 53-41.
That lead would disappear as Santillan delivered 11 points in the period, majority of which came during a 15-5 windup that put ROS on top 72-69 entering the fourth.
Meantime, TNT boosted its chances of a top two finish by extending the struggles of defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 88-67in the second game.
The Tropang Giga took control of the rematch of the title series from last year’s bubble late in the first quarter onwards to register a league-best 8-1 record, putting themselves in a good position to gain a twice-to-beat advantage given to teams ranked first and second after the eliminations.
Rookie guard Mikey Williams hit 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting with four rebounds and two assists while Jayson Castro came off the bench to produce 14 points.
Robert Bolick tied a career-high with 26 points on the eve of his 26th birthday as NorthPort held off NLEX, 96-94, Sunday, Sept. 12 for its third straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Bolick highlighted another huge game by erupting for 17 in the third quarter that saw the Batang Pier pulled away and eventually complete the first week since their Bacolor stint was delayed due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
RAIN OR SHINE 95 — Santillan 21, Mocon 18, Asistio 11, Belga 9, Nambatac 9, Yap 9, Caracut 7, Torres 4, Norwood 3, Ponferada 2, Guinto 2, Wong 0, Tolentino 0, Borboran 0.
SAN MIGUEL 93 — Romeo 20, Santos 18, Perez 18, Tautuaa 13, Lassiter 11, Fajardo 8, Pessumal 3, Ross 2, Gotladera 0, Gamalinda 0.
Quarters: 16-27, 41-51, 72-69, 95-93.
TNT 88 — Williams M. 27, Rosario 14, Castro 14, Pogoy 13, Williams W. 7, Montalbo 5, Marcelo 4, Erram 2, Exciminiano 2, Alejandro 0, Heruela 0, Reyes 0, Javier 0, Mendoza 0.
GINEBRA 67 — Aguilar J. 18, Standhardinger 14, Thompson 13, Pringle 12, Mariano 6, Caperal 2, Tenorio 0, Dillinger 0, Salado 0, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0, Aguilar R. 0, Devance 0, Ayaay 0
Quarters: 20-16, 45-32, 62-52, 88-67.
NORTHPORT 96 — Bolick 26, Taha 14, Anthony 14, Malonzo 13, Onwubere 9, Ferrer 8, Lanete 5, Grey 5, Elorde 2, Balanza 0, Rike 0.
NLEX 94 — Trollano 19, Alas 13, Cruz 10, Semerad 10, Porter 10, Oftana 8, Miranda 7, Semerad 5, Paniamogan 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, McAloney 3, Ayonayon 2
Quarters: 29-26, 48-45, 73-65, 96-94.