ANTIPOLO – Rain or Shine blew a big lead and lost to TNT but head coach Yeng Guiao still liked the way his wards performed than the last time out.
Particularly Michael Qualls, who struggled big time in a PBA Governors’ Cup comeback spoiled by a blowout loss to Meralco in the conference opener.
“That’s part of the good sign that we can take away from this game today,” the champion mentor offered moments after their 105-100 meltdown at the hands of the Tropang Giga, Friday night at the Ynares Center here.
“I had a talk with him, he really got frustrated in the first game. He also got frustrated in this game. Actually, he was missing free throws, he was taking bad shots towards the end, but it’s still a lot better than the Meralco game.”
It could be recalled that Qualls got thrown off his game since that altercation with Raymond Almazan early in the Bolts match, and ended up with 14 points on a measly 3-of-22 shooting in an eventual 105-87 defeat.
But the former NorthPort reinforcement made it a point to redeem himself against the Texters, scoring 18 points in the first half alone to help the Elasto Painters establish a 47-29 lead during the second period.
He showed up, too, down the stretch to give their counterparts a hard time, chopping a seven-point gap to just two with 44.6 seconds left.
Mikey Williams, though, happened. The reigning scoring champion nailed the dagger triple with 26.3 seconds left, and RoS would never recover.
That shot was a microcosm of how difficult life became for Guiao and Co. after the break as Williams and fellow star guard Roger Pogoy came alive, especially during the third quarter, where the latter scored 14 points.
Williams finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, while Pogoy produced 22 markers. The backcourt tandem both shot 8-of-16 from the floor each, including a 6-of-10 clip from beyond the arc apiece.
“For a while, I thought na may pag-asa na makadisgrasya. Pero second half, Mikey Williams and Pogoy just shot torridly well from the three-point area. Extraordinary percentage,” said Guiao.
“I felt we were contesting the shots but they were still making them. They played the second half well and I don’t have any excuses.
“They played better in the second half, we played better in the first half, but again, they have more experience closing close games. Siguro, that’s what we need to develop sa team namin,” added the 63-year-old.
Then again, Guiao was pleased with their improvement from Sunday’s match, given also the fact that they missed key cogs in Gian Mamuyac and Leonard Santillan as both players were out due to ankle issues.
“There’s still a good side to it, having been able to put them in a precarious situation, giving ourselves a chance to win the game,” he said.
“I think it’s still an improvement from our Meralco game, where we were not able to compete in the endgame in the fourth quarter. Pero ito at least naka-compete kami hanggang huli. It’s still a sign of improvement,” he said.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.