17 December 2015

Bolts 87, Elastopainters 97

Baser Amer
Rain or Shine pulled its act together in the stretches that mattered most, resulting in a 97-87 victory over Meralco last 16 December that moved it closer to an outright semifinals berth in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Chan scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half, not only stoking the Elasto Painters’ drive from a 10-point deficit but also fueling their decisive charge in the stretch. All the while, Almazan was hauling down the rebounds, defending and even scoring to end up with 21 points and 17 boards.

As a result, the E-Painters improved to an 8-2 win-loss record overall, keeping them at second behind 9-1 San Miguel Beer, which was battling 7-2 Alaska later in the evening.

At the end of the 11-game eliminations the top two teams are rewarded automatic semifinals berths and Rain or Shine could clinch one of those with another victory over NLEX on 19 December. Guiao expects his team’s last elims game to be another tough grind like the one against Meralco.

"We had to bleed for this one, maybe because this is really a big game for us," said Guiao. "We have one game to go on Saturday and I expect it will be like a playoff game for us."

The loss, its 10th against a lone win, officially placed Meralco at the bottom of the 12-team field and out of the 10 teams advancing to the playoffs. The Bolts now have nothing to look forward to except prepare for the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup that kicks off 10 February.

Not after the likes of Jared Dillinger, rookies Baser Amer and Chris Newsome and Jimmy Alapag led a determined stance that bailed Meralco out of an early 10-19 hole and even gave it as much as a 52-42 lead in the third quarter.

Ultimately, however, the Bolts could not keep pace with the E-Painters' superior firepower and more organized play, especially in the last three minutes.

"Meralco’s win-loss record does not show the strength of this team," noted Guiao, who on the eve of the match wanted his charges to erect a big lead early, something that only partially happened.

"There was no pressure on them (Bolts) so I was a little worried. I felt if we let our guard down we'll be in trouble against Meralco," added Guiao.

There was also the additional burden of having to move closer to their immediate target. "We’re kinda feeling the pressure," admitted Guiao.

Rain or Shine did ultimately rise to the challenge.

Alapag highlighted a 10-point, four-assist performance with a triple that moved Meralco within 80-81, but Chan answered with a trey of his own before Almazan completed a three-point play that made it a seven-point game.

Newsome capped a 12-point game with a triple, but Chan scored six points and Almazan two in the windup that left little doubt to the outcome.

"Jeff was making his shots and Raymond was just around the basket when we needed him there," said Guiao.

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