The Elasto Painters’ defense took the energy out of the Bolts early, allowing them to coast to the much-needed victory to join Alaska at second spot with a 5-2 win-loss mark.
“One way to redeem ourselves coming off a loss (against Talk ‘N Text) was to play our best game against the hottest team,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“But I’m really surprised we beat them in the manner we beat them today. We just got our rhythm both on offense and defense and we’re able to run our breaks.”
The 25-point margin was the team’s most since its 113-83 demolition of Air 21 last March 16 in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Jireh Ibanes led all scorers with 23 points and was Guiao’s main defensive weapon on Meralco’s deadly backcourt of Mac Cardona and Sol Mercado.
Beau Belga added 16 points, Ryan Arana had 15, while JR Quinahan contributed 10 in a balanced attack for the Elasto Painters, who led by much as 33 points, 94-61, midway in the fourth.
Cardona finished with 20 but Mercado struggled with nine points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
“We were ready to play match up against their top three guards, Sol, Mac and Ronjay (Buenafe),” said Guiao. “We did not let them get their usual confidence and rhythm in their past four wins and I think that’s the key.”
Buenafe, a member of the Rain or Shine squad that won the Governors’ Cup last season, had a quiet 11-point output in his first game against his former team.
Meralco rookie Cliff Hodge had nine points, most of which were scored in garbage time, and 14 rebounds, 10 off the offensive end, but was plagued with foul trouble throughout the game. The Bolts’ record fell to 4-3.
RAIN OR SHINE 106 – Ibanes 23, Belga 16, Arana 15, Quinahan 10, Tang 9, Cruz 8, Chan 7, Rodriguez 7, Norwood 6, Matias 5, Uyloan 0, Jaime 0.
MERALCO 81 – Cardona 20, Salvacion 14, Buenafe 11, Hodge 9, Mercado 9, Hugnatan 6, Bulawan 5, Borboran 4, Reyes 3, Belencion 0, Ross 0, Sharma 0, Artadi 0.
Quarters: 25-19, 41-28, 80-53, 106-81