Rain or Shine hangs on in OT to barge into semis
MANILA, Philippines - The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters hung tough against the gallant stand of the Meralco Bolts in another overtime playoff thriller, 97-96, on Saturday, April 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to set a semifinals date with top seed Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters in the 2014 PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner's Cup.
Rain or Shine's advantage was as big as 11 points, 85-74, with 3:55 left in the game after a Ryan Araña basket. But the Bolts, the relentless team that they are, refused to give up their conference that easily.
The Bolts replicated Air21's late game comeback on Friday night with a 9-0 run of their own to come to within 83-85 following a Gary David baseline drive with the foul for a 3-point play with 1:21 left.
The Painters were left scoreless from the 3:55 mark up until the end of regulation when David forced the extra 5 minutes with a cold-blooded baseline fadeaway, 85-85, as time wound down for the Painters to even run the ball back up the court.
Jeff Chan, who went down on the floor with 5:21 left on the clock as a result of an elbow by Cliff Hodge, took over for the Painters in overtime. He scored his team's first 4 points at that juncture on an and-one play and a split from the line for an 89-85 cushion before he orchestrated a play for Wayne Chism that resulted to a wide open dunk to pad on the lead some more, 91-85, with 3:24 to play.
Rain or Shine then built an 8-point 95-87 advantage with 1:59 left after a Lee jumper. But Meralco still did not stay down as David drilled back-to-back triples to slash the lead again, 95-93, with 1:16 on the clock.
However, Meralco failed to take advantage of the situation where Lee committed back-to-back lapses on the other end –a turnover and a charge on Reynel Hugnatan – as David got a heat check with a rushed three-point attempt with 10 ticks remaining.
The empty Meralco possession allowed Lee to ice the game with two freebies, 97-93, with 5.7 seconds left before David got a three-pointer to go to ink the final tally.
"It's another grind out game," said Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao. "I just thought the referees just missed a lot of calls in the endgame."
Guiao made good on his word of turning the aggression up a notch as his team attacked the hoop early in the game, which resulted to 24 first half free throw attempts. While Meralco only took to the stripe 8 times in the first 24 minutes of play.
The Painters sprinted to a 56-50 lead early the second half, forcing two turnovers right away on the Bolts, who were very sloppy in ball handling at that juncture in the third.
But Meralco kept in step with their opponents well enough for only a manageable 4-point deficit, 66-70, to start the final frame.
Both teams eased up somewhat from penetrating the paint in the first 3 minutes of the fourth, settling for jump shots instead. But that didn't last long as Rain or Shine created some separation from Meralco, 81-72, thanks to makes from downtown by Beau Belga and import Wayne Chism along with some much needed attacks to the basket and fastbreaks.
Guiao commended his import for his 37-point output to go with 21 rebounds.
"He just carried us on his shoulders. He's a far more superior import than Jackson. I think that's our advantage," he explained, also adding a crucial weakness they discovered about Meralco import Darnell Jackson.
"Their import couldn't play defense. So we just attacked that and exploited that weakness. So we ran all of our ball screens and pick and rolls on the import. That's how we were able to survive this series against Meralco.
"We had no other plays. We just had one simple play which is to force the import to play defense on our guards."
Lee provided support to Chism with his 19 points as Belga and Chan added 9 and 7 points, respectively.
For Meralco, Jackson led the way with 31 markers as David finished his hot shooting night at 20 points, 16 of which he scored in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
RAIN OR SHINE (97): Chism 37, Lee 18, Belga 9, Norwood 8, Chan 7, Cruz 4, Almazan 4, Tiu 4, Ibanes 4, Arana 2, Tang 0.
MERALCO (96): Jackson 31, David 20, Salvacion 18, Hugnatan 6, Dillinger 5, Hodge 5, Al-Hussaini 4, Wilson 4, Sena 3, Timberlake 0, Caram 0.
Quarter scores: 20-28, 48-46, 70-66, 85-85, 97-96.