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Rain or Shine normally uses the same blueprint of exploiting the size advantage of Reggie Johnson inside to dominate its rivals.
This time around, the Elasto Painters needed Chris Tiu to bail them out.
Tiu rained down threes inside Smart Araneta Coliseum as the Elasto Painters turned back the Blackwater Elite, 104-94, to regain the solo leadership on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“The guy has the heart. Every time we need to score, he’ll be there to shoot. Basically, he’s becoming the leader of the team,” Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia said.
In the second game, Meralco hung tough in the dying seconds of overtime for a 103-100 victory over Phoenix.
Left open from afar on several occasions, Tiu knocked down four of his five threes in a huge Rain or Shine run that erased an 11-point deficit entering the fourth period.
Garcia, however, sees their four-game streak that put them on top with a 7-1 record has more to it than just skill.
“I feel that we’re lucky. But what we’re trying to achieve is not only to have a good elimination campaign, but also a good next round,” Garcia said.
Luck for Rain or Shine came in the form of an injured Henry Walker, who got hit badly in the groin, early in the game.
It also didn’t help the Elite’s cause when reliable big man JP Erram sprained his right foot after landing on Tiu’s foot late in the first half. That left Blackwater scrambling to defend the post, leaving the perimeter open.