Last-minute snafu shelves import, but last-second Santillan basket saves Rain or Shine

Rain or Shine’s Santi Santillan saves the day for Elastopainters. –PBA IMAGES

Rain or Shine was left to sort out a puzzle after it was forced to play without import Greg Smith II in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Thursday.

And the Painters were still ruing the administrative snafu even after Santi Santillan made sure the handicap didn’t matter.

“It’s kinda unfair,” coach Yeng Guiao said after the Elasto Painters forged a 120-118 thriller over the Terrafirma Dyip with Smith out due to clearance issues back in his previous playing stint.

Smith was equally surprised at the pregame twist since he felt his campaign with Leones de Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic about two years ago would no longer affect his playing career elsewhere.

But after making his Elasto Painters debut last Sunday against the Blackwater Bossing, finishing with 38 points, Smith and the team were minutes away from tipoff when they got word that the Dominican Basketball Federation had yet to issue the necessary paperwork to allow him to continue playing outside of the Caribbean nation.

“It’s something that we didn’t think was a problem,” Smith later said. “Now it’s kind of a problem so I’ll have to sort it out so I can be cleared for Wednesday.”

Guiao and the Elasto Painters will try to resolve Smith’s papers before they troop back to the floor on Feb. 22 against the Magnolia Hotshots.

Clearances from a player’s previous team and national federation are among the requirements needed by world governing body International Basketball Federation before imports can complete their move elsewhere.

Six triples

Fortunately for Rain or Shine, the predicament didn’t hamper its bid after its locals—young and old—stepped up and produced a second straight win after four consecutive losses to open the season-ending conference.

Andrei Caracut fired a career-high 25 points behind six three-pointers while Santillan made up for a turnover that allowed Terrafirma to tie the score in the dying minutes and came up with the game-winning basket.

Santillan’s layup off Rey Nambatac’s pass put Rain or Shine ahead with a second remaining after Terrafirma tied it twice behind import Jordan Williams. The Painters’ versatile big man finished with 21 points and six rebounds.

Elder statesman

Gabe Norwood, who has become one of the elder statesmen in Rain or Shine’s youth movement, delivered 18 points with four triples even as shared some responsibilities in guarding Williams.

“We had to make up for the numbers that were lost with him [Smith] not being able to play,” said Guiao. “It’s a good test of character and the guys did not give up so it’s a good development for our team.”

On the other side of the coin, Terrafirma was left ruing the missed chance of beating an all-local side.

Williams, who was averaging 40 points going into the match, only had three in the first half before suddenly going off like he had done so many times this conference and put the Dyip in contention to at least force overtime.

But the Painters held on and caught up with the Dyip at 2-4 (win-loss).

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