Even while playing inconsistently throughout the game, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters still managed to outmuscle the Blackwater Elite, 95-90, advancing in the PBA playoffs earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Both squads shot bricks from the perimeter to open the match. The Painters found gaps in the Blackwater half court defense, scoring off drives and cuts. The Elite, on the other hand, pushed the ball up the court even off Rain or Shine makes to generate their points. Still, the Painters escaped with a 17-14 lead.
Plugging in sharpshooters Jeff Chan and Maverick Ahanmisi, the Elasto Painters finally drained jumpers. After Raymond Almazan botched consecutive rebound plays and gave up own-goal baskets, Chan and Ahanmisi took their turns burning Blackwater’s defense with stabs from the outside. An Ahanmisi three gave the Elasto Painters a 37-27 lead with four minutes left at the half. The Elite threatened to wrestle away the advantage, unleashing a quick 7-0 run highlighted by a Mike Cortez transition triple, but RoS had an immediate reply, going to Almazan to cap a 7-0 run for a 44-34 advantage to end the half.
After scoring just four points in the opening half, Blackwater’s Carlo Lastimosa put on a show to keep his team in the game. Lastimosa answered every Rain or Shine advance with daredevil drives to the hoop, tallying 16 points in the third quarters alone. However, Rain or Shine’s bigs still dominated their matchups and gave their team a 69-60 lead heading into the payoff period.
With the season his team’s season on the line, Lastimosa valiantly fanned the flames to his incendiary play, scoring 15 more points in the final quarter. A Lastimosa breakaway layup capped a 15-6 blitz that tied the game at 75 to open the fourth quarter. But Blackwater’s lack of experience showed down the stretch, failing to string stops at key points to keep momentum on their side. Chris Tiu scored all of his seven points in a short burst in the last five minutes, keeping RoS ahead, 86-79. Lastimosa and his fellow young gun Arth Dela Cruz took turns scoring baskets, managing to pull their to within five, 93-88, in the final two minutes. Elasto Painters veteran big, Beau Belga gave up two costly turnovers with under a minute left. But Blackwater could not capitalize on their oppurtunities, eventually bowing out to Rain or Shine’s clutch defense.
“It’s a good thing for us that we were able to make some big shots in the end game,” a clearly disappointed Yeng Guiao said after the game. “We prepared really hard for this game but I did not see the effort on the defensive end.”
The lack of energy in the defensive end resulted to the Elasto Painters giving up 30 fourth quarter points. “I’m hoping that the next time we play we raise our level of energy. Im not happy with the win even if it got us to the next round,” the fiery head coach added. “I hope we can prepare harder for the next game.”
This was a call supported by Player of the Game Jeff Chan. Chan had 17 big points, including two triples, and was able to grab six boards and dish out four assists. “Yung sa defense namin hindi ako happy,” Rain or Shine’s gunslinger said after the game. “Pag ganito nilalaro namin baka hindi na kami umabot sa next round.”
“Mahirap ang dadaanan namin kumbaga sa butas ng karayom kami dadaan. I hope sa next game lahat magbigay ng puso kasi pag matalo kami wala na, bakasyon na.”
Besides Chan, bulky big man JR Quinahan finished the game with 16 points on 7/13 shooting from the field. In addition, Raymond Almazan almost notched a double-double with 11 points and nine boards on just 20 minutes of play while rookie Maverick Ahanmisi also added 11 markers.
For the Elite, Carlo Lastimosa had his third 30+ point game this conference in scoring 35 points. Even in fouling out late in the game, he was an efficient 13/24 from the field and was able to grab five boards and five assists. JP Erram and Art Dela Cruz both had 11 points for the second-year franchise.
As a team, Rain or Shine and Blackwater almost shot identical from the field with the victors shooting 42% while the latter was at 43%. However, the Elasto Painters were able to knock down two more triples and convert on seven more free throws that proved to be the difference.
Rain or Shine is set to face off the winner of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and NLEX Road Warriors.
Rain or Shine (95) – Chan 17, Quinahan 16, Almazan 11, Ahanmisi 11, Cruz 9, Norwood 8, Belga 6, Tiu 6, Trollano 4, Ibanes 2, Ponferada 4, Ibanes 2, Teng 0.
Blackwater (90) – Lastimosa 35, Erram 11, Dela Cruz 11, Gamalinda 6, Reyes 6, Cortez 5, Agovida 5, Golla 4, Melano 2, Vosotros 0, Canada 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 44-34, 69-60, 95-90.
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