MANILA, Philippines—James Yap came through in the clutch to lift B-Meg over Rain or Shine, 85-80, and tie the two teams’ PBA Governors Cup best-of-seven Finals series at 1-1 Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Yap finished with 24 points including a tough left corner turnaround jumper that gave the Llamados an 82-78 cushion with 15.6 seconds left.
“This was a crucial game for us. We had to, at some point, convince ourselves that we could beat this team. We haven’t changed that yet but this one win can help us turn that around,” said B-Meg head coach Tim Cone.
“‘Big Game’ James turned to ‘Big Shot’ James,” Cone said of Yap. “The defense was so shattered that he was able to get a good look and knock it down.”
B-Meg built an 11-point lead twice in the third quarter before ROS was able to tie the game at 74, with 5:25 left.
Jamelly Cornley, the conference’s best import, sank two free throws that pulled the Elasto Painters to within two, 78-80, before Yap’s clutch shot.
Marcus Blakely bounced back from his poor Game 1 outing with game highs of 26 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks to offset his seven errors.
Game 3 is set on Friday with both teams looking for a pivotal 2-1 series lead.
For Rain or Shine, though, the squad may have to make do sans its best player Paul Lee.
Lee, who came in second to Mark Caguioa as the conference’s Best Player, reinjured his left shoulder after swiping at the ball at the 2:22 mark of the fourth quarter.
The former University of the East star immediately went down on the floor in tremendous pain while grabbing his shoulder. He was then carried out of the court on a stretcher in the waning seconds of the game.
Concerned but unfazed, ROS head coach Yeng Guiao even made a bold statement: “We will win this series with or without Paul Lee.