MANILA, Philippines - The Meralco Bolts caught the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on the wrong day.
Thanks to an impressive shooting display from downtown, the Elasto Painters took down the Bolts, 92-82, and went up 2-0 in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Easter Sunday, April 5, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine, who’s now a win away from their third PBA Finals appearance in the last five conferences, converted a total of 19 3-pointers on Sunday, which is the most any PBA team has made in a game in the 2015 season.
Paul Lee finished with 5 triples and went a total of 7-of-9 from the field to lead all locals in scoring with 23 markers in addition to his 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Rookie Jericho Cruz had another solid outing for Coach Yeng Guiao, putting up 15 points in just 20 minutes.
“It’s always a hard game, and that’s what our expectation was,” Guiao said about their preparation for the Bolts, who were led by Josh Davis’ 25 points and 17 boards.
“Jericho again played well, stepped up. Paul was his usual self. And the rest of the guys pitched in.”
The Elasto Painters shot 43% from the field but hit 50% of their shots from downtown, 8 of which coming in the third quarter where Rain or Shine scored 32 points and built a lead that stretched up to 17.
Meralco, who was ahead by 11 at the end of the first period and by three at halftime, went on a late run in the fourth period by trimming the lead down to seven, but eventually ran out of gas. All throughout the game they struggled on offense with a 36% shooting display, leading to the loss that puts them on the brink of elimination.
“It just so happened that we were making our outside shots,” said Guiao, whose team fell just three 3-balls short of the franchise record. “They took the risk of double teaming on Wayne Chism, and that opened up our shooters and luckily for us, we were making those outside shots.”
Chism registered just 11 points but pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. He also hit the game-clinching 3-pointer with less than a minute to go to seal the win for his club, 92-82, not long after a 3-pointer by David threatened a collapse.
“They took that risk and we won the gamble. But it’s a hard game, it’s still a hard game. We hope to close it out on Tuesday (April 7). That’s our best chance to close it out… we’re hoping to put all our energy into that game on Tuesday.”
David put up 17 points but shot just 7-of-19 from the field. Outside of Reynel Hugnatan, who put up 12 points, no other Meralco player scored in double-figures.
“Our guards are playing well, even without Jeff, they’re stepping up. This series is not about import scoring. Both imports are not really dominating the offense. So offense wise, it’s really the locals that need to step up,” said Guiao.
Rain or Shine 92 - Lee 23, Cruz Jericho 15, Chism 11, Tiu 10, Uyloan 9, Belga 7, Quinahan 6, Norwood 5, Ibanes 3, Tang 3, Teng 0, Arana 0, Cruz Jervy 0, Almazan 0.
Meralco 82 - Davis 25, David 17, Hugnatan 12, Wilson 7, Cortez 6, Caram 5, Hodge 2, Anthony 2, Ildefonso 2, Sena 2, Ferriols 2, Macapagal 0.
Quarter Scores: 16-27, 44-47, 76-61, 92-82