Jay R. Gotera
MANILA — James Yap made sure his team will live to fight another day, exploding for 30 points to power the B-Meg Llamados to a 91-81 win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in Game 5 of the 2012 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on a stormy Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The win foiled the E-Painters’ bid to wrap up the series which they still lead 3-2. They could once again try to clinch their first PBA championship in Friday’s Game 6.
In his best game in the conference, Yap was on fire right from the get-go, knocking in 11 points in the first quarter of the emotionally charged match.
In an uncommon display of toughness, the two-time PBA Most Valuable Player awardee was whistled for a flagrant foul penalty one after he punched Rain or Shine’s Jireh Ibanes, who was sticking to him like a leech.
“It’s OK if they play a physical game, but if they’re deliberately trying to hurt us, that’s not good,” Yap said after the game.
Yap scored seven more points in the second quarter including a booming triple that gave B-Meg a 44-41 lead at halftime.
The game’s intensity rose in the third quarter as burly Rain or Shine center Beau Belga collided with B-Meg import Marqus Blakely, resulting in double technical fouls and Belga was ejected.
The incident appeared to fire up Blakely and his teammates as the Llamados took a nine-point lead, 70-61, at the end of the third quarter. Blakely finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
The two squads fought ferociously in the fourth quarter, but there was no denying B-Meg’s grim determination to stay alive.
Jamelle Cornley led the E-Painters with 25 points, while Jeff Chan had 14.
Missing in action was James Norwood who failed to score a single basket.
Injured star guard Paul Lee showed up in uniform but was not dispatched into action by coach Yeng Guiao.
On B-Meg’s side, Marc Pingris did not play. “He’s got a severe stiff neck from the Arana foul,” said B-Meg coach Tim Cone, referring to the hard foul by Rain or Shine swingman Ryan Arana in Game Four. Pingris retaliated with a head-butt that was called a flagrant foul penalty one. His foul was upgraded to penalty two after the game, but Pingris escaped a suspension, earning a 20,000-peso fine for his actions instead.
Rain or Shine not only won Game Four of Finals last Sunday but also allowed coach Yeng Guiao his 500th victory as a coach in the PBA. Guiao, who started his professional coaching career in 1990, thus joined an elite list that counts only Tim Cone and Baby Dalupan among its members.