|Rain or Shine's Tyrone Tang defends B-Meg's Mark Barroca during Game 7 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals. Photo by ABS-CBNnews.com.
MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine, the league’s youngest team with zero championship experience, squeezed through in the last game of the season, conquering a star-studded, talent-laden champion team to become the PBA’s newest toast with a breakthrough championship.
Foiled twice, the Elasto Painters won the game they could no longer afford to lose, humbling the fancied B-Meg Llamados, 83-76, to capture the PBA Governors Cup crown before screaming souls of over 22,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
The E-Painters, all first-timers in the finals, pulled off an improbable feat, delivering the coup de grace in an amazing conference in this pressure-packed Game Seven.
Even minus their injured ace playmaker Paul Lee, the E-Painters completed a tour de force, ending the team’s six-year wait to claim a first PBA title.
Jamelle Cornley and his teammates played a brilliant game, foiling B-Meg’s own aspiration to make history.
Cornley churned out 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood added at least 15 each, as Rain or Shine denied B-Meg what could have been its first successive championships.
Chan, the season’s Most Improved Player, averaged 12 points and three games in the series and won the Cinnabon Finals MVP award.
“It was a dream nurtured in six years. It finally came to fruition with a lot of effort, lot of planning, big heart and determination,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“We played a future Hall of Famer coach, lots of superstars, a champion team, a dream organization. They have so much depth and I don’t know how we’re able to beat them,” Guiao also said.
Guiao thought “we just got into their heads and we took advantage.”
B-Meg coach Tim Cone offered no excuses, expressing satisfaction on what they achieved in the season.
“It was a good year for us. We did something special, gunning for back-to-back championships and battling back from a 1-3 deficit (to force a sudden death in this final). It takes a special group to do
that,” said Cone.
Winning the rebounding for the first time in the series, the Elasto Painters took control most of the way and got added boost as B-Meg import Marcus Blakely fouled out with 8:30 left to play.
Cornley sustained a pulled hamstring with 3:58 left but endured the injury and went on to savor a first championship in any pro league.
As Cornley canned in a charity to settle the outcome of the game with 22.8 seconds left, the Rain or Shine crowd started to celebrate, unfurling championship banners in the stands.
“I don’t think it (Blakely’s exit) was the turning point but it was a big factor. We’re leading already when he fouled out,” said Guiao.
Still within striking distance at 74-78, the Llamados eventually lost the game as they went scoreless in the next three-and-a-half minutes, going 0-of-6 from the field.
Holding their ground on rebounding, the Elasto Painters enjoyed a 13-point lead, 35-22, in the first quarter and closed the half at 50-48.
For the first time in the last four games, the Elasto Painters led in the first quarter. Rain or Shine produced its biggest first-quarter output in the series as the E-Painters won the rebounding, 13-8, and hit at a high 61.9% clip.
The Llamados, however, rattled in nine straight points to start the second period and drew level at 48-all as Marcus Blakely soared high above Jeff Chan to finish a fastbreak layup.
Jervy Cruz scored on a putback in the closing seconds to give Rain or Shine the two-point halftime edge.
The Llamados started strong in the second period, pouncing on the Elasto Painters as Jamelle Cornley rested on the bench. Guiao cut Cornley’ rest short as B-Meg closed in at 31-35.