MANILA (1st UPDATE) -- The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters held off San Mig Super Coffee's Grand Slam party as they won Game 4, 88-79, Monday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters led by as much as 20 points in the game, but had to weather repeated rallies by the Mixers in the second half before pulling away anew late in the fourth to ensure that there will be a winner-take-all Game 5 in the best-of-5 Finals series.
"We just postponed their party," Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao said after the game. "We're hoping we can cancel it on Wednesday."
"We're not actually trying to spoil their Grand Slam ambition, but we are trying to get our championship ambitions," he added.
The Elasto Painters seized control of the game with a remarkable 26-6 run in the second quarter, with import Arizona Reid, guard Gabe Norwood, and reserve Jonathan Uyloan all hitting huge baskets in the run.
Only 6 points from hardworking San Mig import Marqus Blakely kept Rain or Shine from building an even bigger lead.
"It was just one of those situations," said Norwood, who scored 9 points in the second period alone. "It was win or go home, and we didn't want to go home yet."
"I think we proved that, myself and everybody on my team," he added.
Norwood finished with 14 points, while 3 other locals -- Paul Lee, Beau Belga, and Ryan Arana -- also finished in double-digits. It was a stark contrast from their performance in Game 3, when Reid scored 31 points but no other Rain or Shine player reached double-figures in scoring.
"You see how much work AZ (Reid) puts in," Norwood said. "We really didn't show up for him last game, and we took it personally. Everybody challenged themselves to knock down shots today."
Reid scored 22 points in Game 4 but had plenty of help this time around.
Reid's triple with 2:28 to go gave Rain or Shine their biggest lead of the game, 53-33, but a scoring flurry by Blakely allowed San Mig to enter halftime with a more manageable deficit of 15 points, 53-38.
Blakely continued his rampage in the third period, punctuating a 12-0 San Mig run with a slam dunk that made it a 6-point game, 53-47.
It was Lee who came to the rescue, draining a 3-pointer to end the drought for Rain or Shine at the 6:28 mark of the period. Prior to his triple, the Elasto Painters missed 7 straight field goals.
San Mig Coffee continued to threaten in the third period, but the Elasto Painters remained composed as Reid, Lee and Arana took turns scoring to keep the Mixers at bay. Rain or Shine also ended the quarter strong, scoring 6 straight points to enter the fourth with a 14-point lead, 69-55.
"We just had to match their intensity," Norwood explained. "Jonathan (Uyloan) came in and gave us great minutes and great energy... but we just have to match the pace of their second group."
The Mixers threatened for the last time as they opened the final period with an 11-4 run to again cut the deficit to single digits, 73-66, but Jeff Chan hit an acrobatic lay-up, and Norwood got an and-1 play off a Reid assist to again make it a 10-point game.
"We certainly did not play well today," admitted San Mig coach Tim Cone. "They played great."
"We're just going to come out and see what we can do. They're a mentally tough, they responded well and they played their game today," added Cone, who is seeking his second Grand Slam after achieving the feat with the Alaska Aces in 1996.
Blakely finished with 21 points to lead the Mixers, but was frustrated all game by the Elasto Painters and had to sit out long periods in the second half due to foul trouble.
James Yap finished with 12 points, but no other San Mig local scored in double-digits.
RAIN OR SHINE 88 - Reid 22, Lee 14, Norwood 14, Belga 11, Arana 10, Uyloan 8, Almazan 3, Cruz 2, Tiu 2, Chan 2, Ibanes 0, Rodriguez 0.
SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 79 - Blakely 21, Yap 12, Devance 9, Sangalang 8, Simon 8, Barroca 7, Maliksi 6, Pingris 4, Taha 2, Melton 2, Mallari 0, Reavis 0.
Quarterscores: 21-21, 53-38, 69-55, 88-79