22 June 2015

Bolts 89, Elastopainters 96

Rain or Shine completed a dramatic rise from the brink all the way to a Top Four finish with a 96-89 drubbing of Meralco in a Fathers Day special at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night (21 June 2015).

Beau Belga and Chris Tiu sparked a decisive surge late in the third period, allowing the Elasto Painters to overcome an early 13-point deficit and eventually stretch their hot streak to six games.

In winning their last six matches against Blackwater, Talk n Text, NLEX, Star, Kia, and Meralco, the Elasto Painters gained a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals like top seed Alaska and second seed San Miguel Beer.

GlobalPort, at 6-5, and Star, at 5-5, are the two remaining teams with a shot at the last slot in the Top Four which rewards twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.

"This is a big game for us, putting us in a twice-to-beat situation. We’ve made up for a bad start with our winning streak. But it’s not yet over. We need one more win to make the next round (semifinals). That’s our next goal," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

"I was on the verge of giving up on our Top Four hopes. We’re just trying to survive. We would’ve been happy to make the Top Eight then we made a hot run," Guiao also said.

A top contender for the Top Four early on, the Bolts settled for a spot in the Top Eight in losing three of their last four games.

"They had a good game plan. They gave Wendell a tough time at the post. It’s just his tenacity and energy that carried us through,” said Guiao.

McKines came through with 26 points, 12 rebounds and three assists but it was the duo of Belga and Tiu that provided the needed spark coming off the bench late in the third.

Limited to five points together in the first half, Belga and Tiu came out firing and doing a lot more else as the E-Painters outplayed the Bolts in the last 15 minutes of the game.

Belga collected nine points and the same number of rebounds while Tiu fired a trey that started it all, enabling Rain or Shine to turn the game around at the finish.

Trailing through the first 35 minutes, the E-Painters surged ahead, 69-68, on a three-pointer by Tiu and a layup by Belga.

Meralco tied the count at 72 at the start of the fourth then the E-Painters unleashed another key run to eventually seize control at 89-78 with 2:12 left to play.

“We didn’t have Gabe (Norwood) as he attended a brother’s wedding. We needed him badly to defend the import of the other side. We encountered some problems because Jireh Ibanes, our next best defender, was ejected due to a flagrant foul penalty 2. We just toughed it out till the end," said Guiao, insisting McKines played a huge part.

"Wendell’s tenacity really carried us through. It’s contagious. He works hard and the best we can do is just to live up to the kind of energy he puts out every game," said Guiao of his prized import.

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