Rain or Shine came from behind and stole the Meralco Bolts’s thunder, 83-81, to further improve its playoff chances in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup, Sunday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Richard Ross had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Rey Nambatac produced 24 markers to lead the Elasto Painters.
Rain or Shine finished the eliminations at 4-7. It now hopes for NorthPort to lose versus Ginebra — which is ongoing as of this posting — for a chance of at least a playoff for number eight.
“Big win for us. Whatever happens, we showed heart today,” said coach Caloy Garcia. “If NorthPort wins, we’re out. If NorthPort loses, we go to a playoff. Pagdadasal na lang namin.”
The Elasto Painters clawed back from a 69-60 deficit at the start of the payoff period through an 11-0 run — ended by a Mark Borboran lay-up — to take a 71-69 lead with 6:21 left on the game clock.
Nambatac then stretched Rain or Shine’s lead to six twice moments after. But Meralco kept fighting, even trimming the gap to a point, 81-82, via Raymond Almazan’s putback with 46.3 seconds to go.
Jewel Ponferrada, though, managed to make it 83-81 through a split with 34.3 seconds left. That was still enough time for Meralco to at least tie the game, but it fumbled on its last possessions.
Bong Quinto lost hold of the ball as Nambatac stripped it away from him. Allen Durhan tried to tie the match in the final seconds, but his shot and Almazan’s putback missed as time expired.
“We were able to beat two strong teams, and that’s a testament to the hard work of the locals and having Rich,” said Garcia as RoS beat San Miguel Beermen, 91-86, last November 9 in Cebu.
Allen Durham had 23 points and 16 rebounds to lead Meralco, who fell to 8-3. They also drop to the second spot, enabling the NLEX Road Warriors to claim sole leadership of the standings.
Raymond Almazan flirted with a 20-20 outing before finishing with 18 points and 19 rebounds. Baser Amer also finished with 18 points, while Chris Newsome chimed in 12 markers.
Rain or Shine 83 – Ross 26, Nambatac 24, Exciminiano 8, Borboran 4, Ponferada 4, Mocon 4, Norwood 4, Rosales 3, Torres 3, Belga 3, Daquioag 0.
Meralco 81 – Durham 23, Amer 18, Almazan 18, Newsome 12, Quinto 6, Pinto 2, Caram 2, Faundo 0, Hodge 0, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 23-21, 41-42, 60-69, 83-81.