Throw all the stats away. It now boils down to one last game. It’s an all or nothing Game 7 on Sunday.
Working behind a balanced offensive attack, the B-Meg Llamados forged that sudden death match after turning back Rain or Shine 97-81 Friday night to ensure a thrilling finale in their best-of-seven PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fresh from a 30-point explosion in Game 6 last Wednesday, James Yap picked up from where he left off, coming up with a game-high of 20 points on top of nine boards and got needed help from his B-Meg teammates that enabled them to tie the series 3-3.
The Llamados led all the way and broke the game wide open in the fourth period, where they sank seven triples and led by as many as 24 points.
Import Marqus Blakely got the better of counterpart Jamelle Cornley anew, tallying 19 points and 15 boards, while PJ Simon added 16 and reserve guard Jonas Villanueva had 11 for the Llamados, who are now bidding to duplicate the feat achieved by sister team Ginebra in 1991 over Shell.
“Game 7 is a huge battle,” stressed B-Meg coach Tim Cone. “Basically, it’s an all-out war. Game 7 is always a 50/50 game. It’s not a game of adjustments; it’s a game of heart.”
Interestingly, the Kings were the only team in the league’s 37 year of existence to completely come back from a 1-3 hole in a finals series.
“We want to stay focused. All we did was tie the series. If we win this and lose on Sunday, we might as well lose tonight. True happiness comes from winning it all,” Cone added.
Cornley, the Best Import awardee, groped all night long against the reinvigorated B-Meg defense and was held down to a series low of 14 points. Gabe Norwood, who went scoreless in Game 5, added 14 while diminutive guard TY Tang had 11 but those proved not enough for the suddenly sagging Elasto Painters.
Validating Rain or Shine’s another rough outing was its atrocious 38 percent shooting from the field, highlighted by Jeff Chan’s miserable 1-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc.
Making matters worse, the E-Painters got abused down low with a 33-56 rebounding discrepancy and coach Yeng Guiao gamely acknowledged that, saying: “It’s our perennial problem–rebounding again. We lost by 23 rebounds. We were having problems with their size and length.”
The fiery RoS mentor also acknowledged B-Meg’s hot shooting, saying: “They also shot well outside. They were shooting their threes a lot better.”
Despite failing to get the job done consecutively, Guiao remains confident, adding: “Na-delay lang ng konti. Na-delay lang ulit. It’s (Game 7) just another chance to win a championship.”
Tang momentarily breathed life into the Painters by knocking a triple that cut their deficit to 63-70 with less than ten minutes in the payoff period, but B-Meg just wouldn’t be denied.
The Llamados camped out from beyond the arc, with Blakley and Villanueva draining back-breaking, shotclock-beating treys followed by another two from Yap that put the game out of the Painters’ reach at 92-68.
As expected, intense emotions boiled over the court anew, with Cornley getting into a heated exchange with injured B-Meg forward Joe DeVance. That came on the heels of an earlier word war between rugged RoS center Beau Belga and B-Meg team manager Alvin Patrimonio.
“There should be something done with Alvin and DeVance,” Guiao bewailed.
“JDV is in civilian clothing but there’s no warning, none whatsoever. I’ve been given warning and technical fouls pero si DeVance at si Alvin walang warning. So thats been overlooked. Talo kami pero ‘di naman necessary na i-trash talk nila kami ng ganoon without action from the officials.”
B-MEG 97 - Yap 20, Blakely 19, Simon 16, Villanueva 11, Barroca 8, De
Ocampo 8, Urbiztondo 7, Reavis 6, Pingris 2, Gaco 0, Burtscher 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 81 - Cornley 14, Tang 13, Norwood 12, Quinahan 9, Chan 7, Buenafe 7, Ibanes 7, Belga 6, Arana 4, Cruz 2.
Quarters: 19-13, 42-30, 65-56, 97-81