Needing to end the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup elimination round on a high note following two straight defeats, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters survived the Meralco Bolts, 88-85, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Rain or Shine lost hold of a 13-point lead as Reynel Hugnatan scored six straight to give the Bolts an 85-83 lead with 56.3 seconds left, but splits by Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga plus Baser Amer’s missed trey won it for the Painters.
Rain or Shine ended the elims with an 8-3 card and is very much alive in the hunt for a Top Two finish for the quarters.
“The players came up big when we needed them. We’re also lucky at the end. We were just lucky Baser didn’t hit the shot … I hope na whatever happens sa standings, nasa Top Two kami,” said RoS head coach Caloy Garcia.
James Yap led the well-deployed attack by the Elasto Painters with 14 points. Ed Daquioag supplied 12 points, as Maverick Ahanmisi and Javee Mocon chipped in 10 markers apiece with the latter adding seven rebounds.
Rain or Shine had actually taken control of the match late in the third quarter, when Ahanmisi went perfect from the charity stripe by coolly sinking his three free throws to give the Elasto Painters a 62-49 lead with 4:22 on the clock.
The Bolts, though, had other plans. Down nine with 8:40 to go in the fourth quarter, Meralco unfurled an 18-7 blitz — capped by a Hugnatan mid-range jumper — to take the driver’s seat, 85-83, with 56.3 seconds left in the game.
But their lead will soon evaporate, as Ahanmisi quickly responded with a tough lay-up to tie the game at 85-all. Norwood and Belga then followed it up by splitting their respective freebies to push their lead to four with 6.2 ticks to go.
Meralco had enough time to set up a good shot, but Amer’s shot from the top of the key missed its target. Chris Newsome quickly fouled Belga as soon as he latter hauled the board, and he obliged by settling the final count.
Nico Salva had 18 points to lead the Orangemen, who have now gone down to 3-6. Hugnatan made 16 points and six rebounds, while Amer and Bryan Faundo had 10 markers apiece. Newsome finished with eight points and 10 boards.
Meralco will look to bounce back versus Alaska Aces on March 20, Wednesday, at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine 88 – Yap 14, Daquioag 12, Ahanmisi 10, Mocon 10, Torres 9, Rosales 8, Nambatac 7, Borboran 6, Norwood 5, Belga 4, Ponferada 3.
Meralco 85 – Salva 18, Hugnatan 16, Faundo 10, Amer 10, Hodge 8, Newsome 7, Canaleta 7, Jackson 7, Quinto 2, Pinto 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarterscores: 20-26, 44-35, 66-65, 88-85.