MANILA, Philippines — Lucky was how Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao described his squad’s 99-97 win over Air21 on Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unable to find an opening to break way, the Elastopainters kept a lead no bigger than four points in the final 4:20 minutes and had to hold their breath in the Express’ final play.
“We got really lucky in this game, our import was in foul trouble for most of the second half and played very limited minutes,” said Guiao after the game.
The seven-foot-three center Bruno Sundov, who led Rain or Shine with 17 points (11-of-11 freethrows), fouled out with 1:15 with his squad only up by three.
Ryan Araña then scored a huge trey, but veteran guard Wynnie Arboleda quickly pulled three back for Air21 and pull within 97-98 with 42.3 ticks to go.
Arboleda, though, wasn’t able to salvage the win as he misfired on a wide-open triple off a kick out pass by Michael Dunigan and then Air21 bungled their final possession with three seconds left.
“It was fortunate, they made a turnover in the last play. If it would’ve gone into overtime, it would be difficult to win this game,” added Guiao.
Paul Lee scored 15 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting off the bench, along with seven rebounds and seven assists off, while Araña added 11.
Dunigan, meanwhile, got the better of the match up with Sundov as he had 22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists but the Express dropped to 1-3.
Even with Canaleta adding 18 points, Mark Isip and Mike Cortez 14 each and John Wilson added 11, Air21 wasn’t able to get a taste of the lead.