The scoreboard read 58-all in the third quarter with the Meralco Bolts hanging on in a neck-and-neck battle with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. The latter then decided to take the matter into their own hands.
The 58-all line seemed to have happened years back with Rain or Shine, and it wasn’t really a showdown this time. Using experience and sticking to a tested system, the Elasto Painters knew they had it in the bag after the deadlock, which became a distant memory.
“We broke away in the fourth quarter. They stayed with us for three quarters then again, it was our experience that gave us an advantage in being able to finish this game,” Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao addressed reporters after his wards took Game 1, 99-86.
“All of that experience will show in the fourth quarter.”
Rain or Shine forced 18 turnovers from Meralco and made 22 points of their own while also attacking in transition as they held a colossal 26-2 lead in fastbreak points.
Coach Norman Black could only watch from the sidelines as the Elasto Painters built a fortress on the Bolts’ shaded area, blocking all passing lanes and penetration as the team showed why it owns one of the best defenses in the league. “We committed a lot of turnovers that led to a lot of fastbreak points for them,” Black shared. “We just have to do a better job of making what we want to do. I don’t think there should be much adjustments, but getting back on defense has been a strength of my team in the conference.”
With the paint clogged and without much floor spacers, Meralco opted to take forced shots and a lot of one-on-one plays, resulting into a 25-15 fourth quarter favoring Rain or Shine. “We will see what happens in the next game. We have to get production from the other guys,” Black added. “We did have guys on the floor who can shoot the ball but give them [Rain or Shine] credit. They played well and they deserved to win.”
On the other end of the floor, it was one of the few times where Rain or Shine held an advantage in height, and while leading the league in three-point makes and attempts, Yeng Guiao’s crew took it strong inside the paint where it led 50-30.
Wayne Chism had 18 points, missing only one of his eight attempts. Thirteen other players scored for Guiao in a masterful showcase of depth. Rain or Shine also led for virtually the entire contest (Meralco led for only 1:11 of the game).
“It was a good thing were able to regain momentum in the second half offense-wise,” Guiao added. “Wayne wasn’t getting touches in the first half, but we tried to find a way to get him the ball in the second half.”
Meralco, on the other end, was left with no solutions. Josh Davis managed to score 11 points and haul down 15 boards but was only 4-for-12 from the field. The entire squad shot 39 percent from either inside or outside the arc, not exactly the way a team wants to start a semifinals series.
It was evident in the series opener that Rain or Shine is ahead by a mile in many facets of the match-up, and Meralco has to get to its opponent’s level to make a showdown out of it.