E-Painters, Bolts on top
Rain or Shine walked the tightrope on Sunday night against a lightly regarded foe to remain unscathed, and coach Caloy Garcia highlighted one critical play in extension which he feels will make the Elasto Painters successful in their defense of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“To win this conference, we have to involve everybody,” Garcia said after a 99-95 nipping of Mahindra at Smart Araneta Coliseum to go 2-0 in the young elimination round, referring to import Shawn Taggert’s unselfishness that helped shove the hard-fighting
Floodbuster to a second straight defeat.
Meralco later joined Rain or Shine on top after a 91-84 beating of NLEX in the second game.
NLEX is likewise winless in two starts.
Jared Dillinger scored 21 and hauled down four rebounds to pace the Bolts while import Alex Stepheson added 18 points.
Taggert spotted a wide-open Jeff Chan with a brilliant cross-court pass with 1:38 remaining for a triple that made it 97-93, enough for the Painters to take the fight out of Mahindra.
“He was able to see Jeff in the corner for that big shot,” said Garcia, who turned 42 Sunday. “That’s what we want from him and he has shown that in practice. He (Taggart) has the ability to make everyone in the team look good.”
Garcia, though, wants his import to do something else.
“We need him to play defense every game,” he said.
Taggart finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds and three locals tossed in 10 or more as the Painters survived the game despite shooting just 38 percent from the field.
Rain or Shine, with top local center Raymond Almazan healthy again, dominated the Floodbuster in the rebounding department, plucking down 48 defensive boards, one better than Mahindra’s total for the night for a 70-47 edge overall.
The Painters also had a great start to the season-opening Philippine Cup but sputtered late in the elimination round and bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.
Garcia believes that it was the injury to Almazan—a premier shot blocker and rebounder—which caused that tailspin.
James White paced the Floodbuster with 29 points and 21 rebounds, but had what looked like a poor decision with the clock winding down in regulation when he elected to take a three-pointer instead of going hard to the basket to snap an 88-all tie.
Gary David, the veteran plucked out of semiretirement, fired all of his 13 points for Mahindra in the fourth.