MANILA (UPDATED) - Rey Nambatac hit the go-ahead shot with 2.5 seconds left as the Rain or Shine outlasted the San Miguel Beermen, 95-93, for their sixth win of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Elasto Painters had to recover from a slow start that saw them fall behind by as much as 13 points in Sunday's game at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga. Rookie Santi Santillan sparked Rain or Shine's comeback, scoring all of his career-best 21 points in the second half.
Javee Mocon added 18 points and 12 rebounds as the E-Painters improved to 6-4 in the conference while dropping San Miguel to 5-3.
"It takes us another step towards the right direction, moving towards the playoffs," ROS coach Chris Gavina said of their triumph. "I preached consistency and discipline today, and these guys, they really showed a great deal of effort, heart, and determination."
Rain or Shine had to recover from a shaky start, as San Miguel scored the first eight points of the game The Beermen led by as much as 13 points in the opening frame, 20-7, and were still in control, 51-41, at the halftime break.
But Santillan came alive in the third quarter, making all four of his field goals for 11 points. Rain or Shine outscored SMB, 31-18, in the pivotal frame to head into the fourth with a 72-69 advantage.
Gavina got big shots from rookies Andrei Caracut and Anton Asistio as Rain or Shine built a five-point lead, 92-87, with three minutes to go. Two charities by Terrence Romeo with a minute and 20 seconds left made it a one-possession game, 92-89, and after a split at the line by Santillan, June Mar Fajardo knocked down two clutch free throws for a 93-91 count with 19 seconds to play.
The Elasto Painters could not execute out of a timeout in their next possession, as CJ Perez stole the ball off Asistio to knot the count at 93 with 12.5 seconds left after a layup in transition.
But that left enough time for Nambatac to play the hero. Inserted in the game cold off the bench, Nambatac received a pass from Beau Belga, drove baseline, and muscled a shot over Perez, Mo Tautuaa, and Marcio Lassiter for a 95-93 lead with 2.5 seconds to play.
"Rey's playmaking, that was on him," said Gavina. "I got him the ball, and he was the one that was able to go with his instincts and make that game-winning basket for us."
Nambatac finished with nine points in the win.
San Miguel still had a chance to tie or win the game, but Santillan blanketed Romeo in the closing seconds, forcing the guard to pass off to Lassiter, whose three-pointer was off the mark as time expired.
Romeo top scored for San Miguel with 20 points and six assists, while Arwind Santos scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter. Perez also had 18 points, and Lassiter added 11 markers.