Rain or Shine pulled off the biggest comeback win in the Philippine Cup last night—and the second biggest in franchise history—by fighting back from 26 points down to nip Meralco in overtime, 102-98, after a rugged and tense action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts had the Elasto Painters seemingly beaten by taking a 56-30 lead in the third quarter before Rain or Shine mounted a sizzling rally to even take a 95-92 lead in the dying seconds before Sol Mercado extended the contest with a long three-pointer.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao not only had the last laugh on the floor against Meralco but rubbed more salt into the Bolts’ wounded egos after the game.
“Coach Ryan (Gregorio of Meralco) said last week that they were complacent when they lost to us by 25 points—they might have been complacent again today,” added Guiao after the Elasto Painters rose to 8-3.
“We are dedicating this win to (Meralco’s) Cliff Hodge and Kelly Nabong,” said Guiao, who also steered the Painters to a 113-111 victory over Air21 in the 2010 Governors Cup after trailing by 28 points.
The game was stopped with 8:06 left in the third period after a nasty incident involving JR Quiñahan and Sol Mercado, which had the Rain or Shine center getting thrown out of the floor for a Flagrant Foul 2 call for hitting a driving Mercado in the face.
Nabong drew a technical foul in that play for a fighting stance against Quiñahan, while Hodge was in the center of so many physical plays—with him on the losing end often—to draw the ire of the firebrand Guiao.
After that stoppage, the Bolts were left with a 56-30 lead and most everyone—except for the Painters and their loyal throng—thought that it was all over but the shouting.
But Ryan Araña, Jeff Chan and Beau Belga fired up the Rain or Shine offensive machine and the Painters went on to complete a 34-point third quarter to trail, 60-65, heading into the payoff frame.
“What fired us up was the JR (Quiñahan) incident,” Guiao explained. “We drew a lot of energy and motivation from there.”
Rain or Shine built a nine-point lead and also had to withstand a furious Meralco comeback anchored on Mercado, who hit three straight triples inside the final 1:45 of regulation to forge the extension at 88-all.
RAIN OR SHINE 102—Chan 25, Norwood 15, Belga 15, Tang 12, Arana 11,
Cruz 10, Quinahan 6, Matias 5, Rodriguez 3, Jaime 0.
MERALCO 98—Mercado 28, Cardona 12, Hodge 9, Ross 9, Borboran 9,
Buenafe 9, Hugnatan 8, Nabong 6, Salvacion 4, Reyes 2, Artadi 2.
Quarters: 8-21, 26-40, 60-65, 88-88, 102-98