Fired-up by a near fight at the end of the first half, Rain or Shine went on a searing third-quarter breakaway and held on for an 89-84 win over Meralco in the 2011-12 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
The Elasto Painters went berserk in the third period and ripped the Bolts apart despite their prolific rookie Paul Lee being neutralized.
Stepping up after the first half marred by a commotion sparked by a collision between Asi Taulava and Jervy Cruz, the Painters seized control, building a huge lead enough to withstand the Bolts’ endgame chase.
Rain or Shine grabbed second place at 3-1 with Barako Bull stopping Talk n Text, 100-86, earlier in the day. The Energy forced a tie at third place with the Texters and the Powerade Tigers at 2-1. The proverbial coolers heads had to separate the two teams after Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and Taulava figured in a hot confrontation.
Taulava earlier shoved Cruz then Guiao got into the scene in also pushing the Meralco center.
The Painters were meaner and better at the resumption of play, bamboozling the Bolts, 30-9, to enjoy a 22-point lead, 71-49, going into the last quarter. “We made some adjustments at the half and I think it worked. We controlled their big men and took away their three-pointers. That’s the key, taking away their best options,” said Guiao after the game.
“It’s a big win as it got us back on the winning track and it pushed us to second place,” Guiao added.
Though falling behind by 25 at one point, the Bolts managed to crawl back into the fight only to come up short in their comeback bid, sliding to sixth place at 2-2.
Coach Ryan Gregorio and his troops came charging back and made it close in the end with Guiao refusing to call a timeout and just letting his boys to ride out the game. “I felt I had to let the boys play, commit mistake and think through the situation,” said Guiao. “It can get scary, but that’s the risk you take if you want your team to learn, build confidence and gain maturity,” Guiao added. “That’s the reason you want a big lead going to the end.” Averaging 19 points in their first three games, Lee was held to 12 but had crucial assists helping the Elasto Painters pull through.
Lee set up Larry Rodriguez for back-to-back undergoal stabs moments after Meralco charged to within five at 79-84 on two triples by Mark Macapagal and a short stab by Gabby Espinas.
Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan led Rain or Shine with 14 points apiece with Rodriguez also winding up with a double-digit output with 11.
Macapagal fired a personal season-high of 20 points for Meralco while Espinas and Taulava churned out double-double numbers combining for 35 points and 21 rebounds. (SB) The scores:
RAIN OR SHINE 89 - Norwood 14, Chan 14, Lee 12, Rodriguez 11, Buenafe 9, Matias 8, Belga 6, Quinahan 6, Ibanes 5, Arana 4, Cruz 0.
MERALCO 84 - Macapagal 20, Espinas 19, Taulava 16, Lanete 14, Isip 6, Borboran 5, Ballesteros 2, Omolon 2, Timberlake 0, Yee 0.
Quarterscores: 22-21, 41-40, 71-49, 89-84