28 February 2011

Bolts 92, Painters 101

Bolts vs Painters
There was little Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao did wrong Sunday (27 February 2011), especially in looking for a substitution. Every one he pointed at came in and promptly delivered.

The result was a 101-92 win over Meralco that gave the Elasto Painters the temporary solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Hassan Adams scored 23 points to lead Rain or Shine, but it was the likes of Ronjay Buenafe, John Ferriols and Ryan Arana leading those coming off the bench and making some big plays that propped them to their second win in as many starts.

"I guess the nice thing about this team is we,re developing some character and we’re able to finish strong," said Guiao. "I think that's what we need for a young team like ours, to continue to develop some character in a close game and being able to close out well."

In the end, the victory was fashioned much more comfortably than in the Elasto Painters’ 95-94 squeaker over B-MEG Derby Ace last Friday, giving them their first 2-0 start since the 2008-09 Philippine Cup.

Meralco showed more cohesion than in its 98-115 conference-opening defeat to Barangay Ginebra last week, but still came unraveled in the decisive fourth period that dropped the Bolts to a 0-2 win-loss slate. Coach Ryan Gregorio has not had such a conference start since Purefoods lost its first three games in the 2006-07 Fiesta.

High-flying Tony Dandridge scored a game-high 31 points, 10 of those off dunks, and he also anchored the defense on Adams that limited the latter to a 9-for-25 field shooting.

But only Mark Cardona and Reynel Hugnatan were able to lend double-digit support with 22 and 11, respectively.

"Once we stopped Dandridge from dunking we were able to play defense in the halfcourt," said Guiao. "That’s our fear, if you let him out in the open court it would be a dunking exhibition. But we were able to at least limit his dunks and that helped settle us down."

Foremost among those Guiao cited were relievers Buenafe, Ferriols, Arana and TY Tang who led Rain or Shine’s 54-21 dominance off bench points.

As a team, the Elasto Painters also shot better from the field by making 35 of 76 tries to the 32-of-77 shooting by the Bolts.

All those difference came to a head most after Adams’ free throw made it an 86-82 game. Arana scored on back-to-back baskets that made it an eight-point difference, still 6:01 left in the match.

The Bolts’ final surge moved them within 87-92, but starting center Doug Kramer highlighted an 11-point, eight-rebound performance with two charities off his offensive board and Adams completed a three-point play that made it a 10-point game. All those helped take some sting off his chipped tooth brought about by a wayward Gabby Espinas elbow.

Sol Mercado, who spent his first five conferences with the Elasto Painters, was limited to just eight points on 4-for-16 field shooting. But his drive gave the Bolts a 62-61 edge in a game that had 20 lead changes.

Then Rain or Shine wrested control for good with an 8-0 run with Mercado's good friend, Gabe Norwood, scoring all his five points in the surge.

Meralco whittled the deficit to just 68-69, but TY Tang came off the bench to drain two clutch triples and Rain or Shine went into the fourth period with a 79-74 lead.

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