Rain or Shine beats Air21, seals second spot
MANILA, Philippines – Just days after winning on a last-gasp shot, Rain Or Shine again had to go through a scary stretch before nailing the No. 2 spot and the last twice-to-beat quarterfinal advantage in the 2014 PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rookies Alex Nuyles and Raymond Almazan came to the rescue after the Elasto Painters nearly blew a 20-point buffer in their 104-94 triumph over Air21 for an 11-3 record at the end of their elimination campaign.
“I’m very happy with the three rookies–Raymond, Alex and Jeric (Teng),” said Painters coach Yeng Guiao. “They gave justice to the playing time given to them.”
The young trio all finished with a team-best 13 points each.
The 6-foot-8 Almazan also grabbed eight rebounds and had a couple of blocks for the hot Painters, who streaked to their seventh straight victory.
Just hours before the Painters’ win, Petron Blaze still had a shot at forging a playoff for the No. 2 slot following a 96-87 drubbing of Meralco in the first game.
But the twin results relegated Petron to No. 3 with a 10-4 record while Meralco fell to 5-9 and will have to wait for its playoff fate on the last day of eliminations Sunday.
“Everybody made a contribution in this game, they knew how dangerous Air21 is since they’re playing without pressure,” Guiao said of his Painters, who jumped to an 11-2 start that grew to a 20-point gap, 43-23, in the first half.
But the ousted Express moved within striking distance, 74-77, late in the third before the Painters staged a 15-0 outburst, all coming from Nuyles and Almazan, that put them comfortably back up, 92-74, in the final period.
The Painters, who came off a thrilling escape against Meralco, 89-86, on JR Quiñahan’s triple with just seven-tenths of a second left–clinched the twice-to-beat edge for the third time in the last five conferences.
“It’s a measure of the consistency of team,” said Guiao.
June Mar Fajardo had another huge double-double effort of 19 points and 15 rebounds as Chris Ross also helped the Boosters pull away by as many as 19 points, 89-70, in the second half where he dropped all but one of his 18-point total.
It was Arwind Santos, though, who sparked the Boosters early surge by accounting for nine points in a 15-2 spurt that gave the Boosters a 36-29 advantage after trailing at 21-27.
“We want to have some sort of momentum and positive attitude in the quarterfinals,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
“A lot of the guys stepped up. We needed a lot of support from the guys and good thing they delivered.”
The Blazers pulled off the victory even minus vital cog Marcio Lassiter, who left recently for the United States to attend the wake of grandmother Ada Eshabarr.
Barangay Ginebra—which wraps up its elimination run against Talk ’N Text at 5:15 p.m. Sunday at Araneta Coliseum —has secured the top seeding and the first twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals with an 11-2 record.
Alaska (4-9) fights for survival against Barako Bull (5-8) in the first game at 3 p.m.
PETRON 96—Fajardo 19, Ross 18, Santos 17, Cabagnot 14, Lutz 12, Kramer 6, Duncil 4, Tubid 2, Taha 2, Lanete 2.
MERALCO 87—David 18, Ildefonso 17, Dillinger 16, Wilson 13, Hodge 13, Allado 5, Hugnatan 3, Artadi 2, Timberlake 0, Salvacion 0, Al Hussaini 0.
Quarters: 15-15, 44-33, 70-56, 96-87
RAIN OR SHINE 104—Almazan 13, Nuyles 13, Teng 13, Arana 10, Rodriguez 10, Belga 7, Cruz 7, Chan 7, Lee 7, Norwood 7, Tiu 5, Tang 2, Ibanes 2, Quinahan 1.
AIR21 94—Yeo 19, Canaleta 19, Manuel 17, Taulava 16, Ritualo 13, Custodio 6, Cardona 4, Borboran 0, Jaime 0, Matias 0, Espiritu 0, Sharma 0, Camson 0.
Quarters: 28-17, 54-41, 81-74, 104-94
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