06 April 2015

Bolts 82, Elastopainters 92

Josh Davis
Rain or Shine boomed in 19 triples to shred Meralco’s defense and post a 92-82 victory Sunday that moved it on the threshold of gaining the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Paul Lee spearheaded Rain or Shine’s comeback from a 14-point first half deficit before Jonathan Uyloan, Jericho Cruz and Chris Tiu joined in to stake the E-Painters to as much as an 87-69 spread, 5:04 to go.

Meralco’s last stand came when Josh Davis and Gary David led a charge that put the Bolts within 82-89, still 1:40 left in the game.

But Wayne Chism found himself wide open for one of the very few times in the game and boomed in a straightaway trey that all but settled the outcome as Meralco could not cash in on its last two offensive thrusts inside the final 45 seconds.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series Rain or Shine can now book its third Finals seat in the last five conferences should it prevail anew in Game 3 Tuesday, also at the Big Dome.

E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao said he hopes his team would let it all hang out in Game 3. "We hope to close it out Tuesday," he said.

"We’ve got one foot inside the door, and we’re now hoping to put all our energy for the game on Tuesday."

In league history and in previous race-to-three series, only three teams have come back from a 0-2 deficit and Guiao also expects Meralco to go all-out and stave off outright elimination.

Should Rain or Shine continue to wax hot from beyond the arc, Meralco stands little chance.
The 50 percent three-point shooting by Rain or Shine equaled the fifth all-time most by a team and was just three short of the franchise best.

Davis scored a game-high 25 points, including 12 in the fourth, while David added 17 and Reynel Hugnatan 12. But Meralco is now faced with the gargantuan task of climbing out of such a deep hole.

Lee wound up with 23 points anchored on 5-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc while Jericho Cruz added a personal conference-high 15 and Tiu 10.

Rain or Shine’s collective explosion sure came in handy when Meralco surged to an early 27-13 lead and in a game where Chism, usually good for close to 30 points a game, was held down to just 11 points. He did have game-highs of 18 rebounds and six assists.

"They took the risk of double-teaming Chism and that opened up our shooters," noted Guiao. "Lucky for us we were making those outside shots. They took that risk and we won the gamble."

The E-Painters actually boomed in four triples right in the first quarter, none bigger than Jireh Ibanes’ catch-and-shoot buzzer-beater that seemed to light up the fire under the team.

Lee’s 10-point second quarter was also highlighted by a triple, the E-Painters’ fifth in the period, bringing the E-Painters within 44-47.

Then came the biggest shooting spree by Rain or Shine in the third, when it made all but three of its 11 three-point shots, six coming during a 22-9 exchange that put them firmly on top, 76-61.

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