Chris Tiu secured Rain or Shine’s 90-84 escape from the tight grip of Meralco for its first back-to-back wins in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The charismatic point guard scored six of the Elasto Painters’ last nine points in the final 2:17 and finished with a team-best 18 points, seven assists, and three rebounds to propel his side to a share of the fourth spot with TNT at 4-3.
Ed Daquioag also unfurled 16 markers and three steals against the team which drafted him back in 2016, while Beau Belga registered a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards in the triumph.
Mark Borboran broke the 79-all deadlock in the final three minutes before Tiu went to work and established the 86-79 lead with 52.8 seconds remaining.
Reynel Hugnatan, who was just three points short from joining the PBA’s 25,000-points club, got the Bolts at their closest at four, 84-88, with 26.1 ticks left, but was denied by the cool free throw shooting from Tiu and Borboran down the stretch.
It was a huge conquest for Rain or Shine, which found itself embroiled in trade talks over the past week.
Coach Caloy Garcia didn’t hesitate to address the elephant in the room, saying that he’s just glad that though some of the players found themselves in those rumors, the Elasto Painters were still able to come out with the win.
“We all know the issue regarding those players, but I told them that we just have to be professional about it and put in the effort. We want to repay the owners and the way to do it is to get the win,” he said.
Meralco has now lost five of its last six to fall to 2-5.
Nino Canaleta paced the Bolts with 24 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, while Hugnatan got 13 markers, four boards, and three dimes in the defeat.
RAIN OR SHINE 90 — Tiu 18, Daquioag 16, Belga 13, Yap 13, Ahanmisi 9, Almazan 6, Ponferrada 6, Borboran 4, Norwood 3, Cruz 2, Nambatac 2, King 0.
MERALCO 84 — Canaleta 24, Hugnatan 13, Amer 8, Lanete 8, Dillinger 7, Newsome 5, Baracael 4, Caram 4, Faundo 4, Hodge 4, Tolomia 3, Ballesteros 0, Salva 0.
Quarters: 26-21, 45-39, 65-66, 90-84.