Arana stars as Rain or Shine squeaks past Globalport to enter semis
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2013 - 8:49pm

MANILA, Philippines – There’s something that makes Ryan Arana tick versus Globalport.

Arana was at it again against Globalport Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, rising to the occasion and coming off the bench late in the game as the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bundled out the Batang Pier, 108-106, to advance to the PBA Governors Cup Final Four.

Tapped in to substitute for the injury-hit Paul Lee late in the third quarter, Arana rose to the challenge, tossing in 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the E-Painters lived up to their billing as the third seeds and gained the second berth in the best-of-five semifinals.

Jervy Cruz also stepped up in a relief job while Gabe Norwood delivered a big three-pointer at the finish as the E-Painters somehow redeemed themselves from their sorry exit in the last Commissioner’s Cup.

“The memory of last conference is still fresh in our mind. The thought of having lost last conference a twice-to-beat advantage bothered us. It’s a relief we’re able to grind it out against a team that’s getting better,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

“We survived a bad free-throw shooting night. We missed 16 free throws but the important thing was we made big shots when we needed to. Ryan (Arana) gave us so many big shots,” Guiao also said.

“Noong second half, nanlalamig na ako sa bench. Pero syempre tiwala pa rin ako kay coach (It’s getting cold on the bench in the second half but I kept my faith on coach),” said Arana, going 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-5 from the stripe in the payoff period.

A former Batang Pier during his amateur days, Arana also played big in their elimination-round tussle with his former team, collecting 21 points, four rebounds and two assists to lead Rain or Shine to a 94-74 rout.

“A big break was coach Junel (Baculi) being ejected. It’s like déjà vu, but it’s the other way around. Mabuti mas nauna siyang na-eject (It’s good he’s the first to get ejected),” said Guiao.

Baculi was tossed out of the game on a second technical foul with 2:08 left in the third period when Rain or Shine has come to within one, 73-74, from 57-69 down.

The E-Painters surged ahead, 93-89, midway through the fourth and sustained the heat, thus, closing the semis door on the Batang Pier.

At least, Globalport improved on its 10th place finishes in the first and second conferences. It’s a fighting conference for the Mikee Romero ball club after a 1-13 win-loss showing in the Philippine Cup and 2-12 journey in the second conference.

Rain or Shine, on the other hand, advanced to the next round with a shot at second straight finals in the season-ending conference.

“We believe we can defend our title,” said Arana.

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