It’s never over till the fat lady sings.
Such was the case last night, as the sixth-seeded Rain or Shine Elasto Painters went ballistic in the dying seconds of regulation to steal an 83-30 victory over the third-ranked Blackwater Elite in Game 1 of their best-of-three 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Quarterfinals series.
Up by eight with 1:34 left in the fourth after a booming triple by Ray Parks Jr., the Elite appeared primed to turn back the wily veterans. But experience trumped youth in the end game, as coach Caloy Garcia’s pulled off an amazing comeback and are now a win away from the semis.
FOX Sports Philippines gives you some insights from the exhilarating match at the Mall of Asia Arena last night.
Nambatac delivers the final sting
Old reliables like Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga have been in multiple playoff battles over the years, but it was second year player Rey Nambatac who was the catalyst of the team’s mighty comeback.
After a trey by import Carl Montgomery trimmed the deficit to five, the 25-year-old former Letran Knight came through with a defensive stop, taking the ball away from Allein Maliksi and converting it to two points with 1:24 left.
A game-tying three-pointer by Norwood followed by a missed shot from Parks set the stage for Nambatac’s heroics. Montgomery gave up the final possession and handed the rock to Nambatac. Blanketed by Roi Sumang, the lefty guard created some separation with a gorgeous pump fake, followed by a the game-sealing basket from way downtown.
🎥 Ankle breaker na, GAME WINNER PA 🔥
— PBA (@pbaconnect) July 20, 2019
Nambatac finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field (33 percent), to go along with six boards, two assists, and two steals in 25 minutes of play off the bench.
RoS kept the ball moving
Without a true go-to scorer to rely on in the clutch, Rain or Shine made due through exemplary player and ball movement. The team made sure to find the best shot possible each possession, tallying 19 total assists contrary to the Elite’s 17. No Elasto Painter had more than three dimes, but everyone who was fielded in the ball game (except Jewel Ponferada) made at least one assist.
The squad also shared the scoring wealth, with Ed Daquioag (19 markers), Montgomery (17), Belga (11), and Norwood (10) all finishing in double figures.
RoS suffocated Blackwater’s passing lanes
Stacked with pesky defenders at the guard and wing positions, Rain or Shine pressured the Elite’s ball-handlers, forcing them to commit 14 turnovers — with 11 of those coming off successful steals. Norwood locked up the opposition with three steals, while Nambatac, Belga, and Mark Borboran had two each.
RoS only converted 10 points off turnovers, but Nambatac’s breakaway lay-up at the 1:24 mark of the third certainly turned the tide in favor of his team.
Greg Smith did not look like his old self
The Elite have eyes on the franchise’s first ever trip to the Semifinals, especially after the return of Greg Smith. But the former NBA player had a lackluster showing on Saturday, missing nine of his 11 attempts from the field (18 percent). Smith made most of his trips from the charity stripe and finished with 16 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, and two steals
Coach Aries Dimaunahan will certainly need a more efficient showing from his import come Game 2 on Tuesday, July 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
(Images from PBA Media Group)