Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters pulled away in the fourth quarter and outlasted the Meralco Bolts, 96-89, to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday, June 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Wendell McKines scattered 26 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and two blocks as the Painters recovered from a 1-4 conference start to finish the elimination round on a 6-game winning streak and a 7-4 record that’s good for third seed.
“They gave Wendell a hard time at the post but it’s just the tenacity of our import,” Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao praised McKines. “His energy, his intensity is really what carries us through and it’s contagious. We see him work so hard and the best we can do is just live up to the kind of energy he puts out every game.”
Jeff Chan finished with 14 points, 8 of which came in the pivotal payoff period, while Paul Lee added 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Andre Emmett had a game-high 33 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals for the Bolts, which fell to 5-5 with one more game left in their schedule.
Gary David poured 11 points in the second quarter and fizzled out after that as he finished with 14 markers, while Jared Dillinger added 12 points and 7 boards.
Trailing by as much as 13 in the first half, the Painters came alive in the third and ultimately pulled away in the fourth thanks to timely triples from gunner Chan and key baskets from Beau Belga.
Belga sparked the Painters with the go-ahead basket, 69-68, at the 1:26 mark of the third and he followed that up with a free throw for the two-point edge.
He scored the first two points of the fourth but missed the bonus free throw to make it a 74-68 advantage for Rain or Shine, as Jonathan Uyloan and Chan conspired on two heady plays to extend the lead.
Uyloan registered his only two points of the game by putting back a missed three-pointer attempt from Chan. But Chan atoned for his miss right away off an Uyloan assist, making it 77-72 with 7:28 to play.
Chan buried a wide open triple with just over 4 minutes left to start a 9-0 run that spelled the end for the Bolts.
The Painters were without defensive specialist Gabe Norwood, who attended his brother’s wedding, according to Guiao. They thoroughly felt his absence as Emmett nearly had a triple double without much pressure defensively.
“We needed him badly to defend the import of Meralco,” said Guiao.
Rain or Shine managed despite losing another reliable defender in Jireh Ibañes, who got tossed from the game with 28.1 ticks left in the first half with a flagrant foul penalty 2 for a hard foul on Emmett.
“I felt it was not a flagrant 2 foul,” Guiao noted.
Ibañes’ ejection capped off a heated first half that also saw Dillinger getting a technical with 1:45 left in the second period for pushing Chris Tiu off of Kelly Nabong after both players crashed onto the Meralco bench in the chase for the loose ball.
“We just toughed it out,” Guiao said. – Rappler.com