JEFF Chan completed his career-game with a twisting shot off two defenders to steer Rain or Shine past a hard-fighting Air21 side in overtime, 99-98, Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Chan finished with 35 points – a PBA career high – on 11-of-14 shooting from the field, including a difficult, left-handed lay-up in the final 15 seconds of the extra period that clinched for the Elasto Painters their second win in three outings in the season-opening conference.
The Express had one final chance to turn the game around, but KG Canaleta failed to get a decent shot after losing the ball in the dying seconds as the Express tumbled to their second loss for a 1-2 record.
“We’re just lucky to get a good game from Jeff. For the most part, his offense carried us through,” said coach Yeng Guiao of his prized shooting guard, a member of the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 national team
Guiao said the Elasto Painters dedicated the victory to long-time assistant coach Roehl Nadurata, who passed away early this week due to brain cancer.
“But that’s the way it goes. That’s part of the game. We’re just lucky to get out of that situation and was able to salvage the win.
“Air21 played well. They defended us very well. But it’s just our experience and probably some of the residue of the championship experience we had that enabled us to just hold on,” added Guiao.
Regulation ended at 94-all after Canaleta shook off defender Jireh Ibanez and drained a big three-pointer at the buzzed that sent the game into overtime.
Earlier, Chan scored the team’s last eight points in regulation that allowed the Elasto Painters to grab a 93-88 lead, time down to 23.3 seconds.
But the Express just refused to roll over and die.
Mark Isip completed a three-point play off a Beau Belga foul to cut down the deficit to 93-91 in the final 10 seconds. But Belga could only split his charities at the other end following a duty foul by Yousif Taha in the ensuing play, paving the door for Canaleta’s game-tying trey.
Rain or Shine failed to shake off Air21 after failing miserably from the free throw line, a factor that made things more difficult for the Elasto Painters during the game, according to Guiao.
“We just had to do it the hard way. We missed a lot of free throws. If we made our free throws, we would have been in a better situation and not had to go through OT,” added Guiao,
The Elasto Painters, reigning Governors Cup champions, shot just 58.8 percent from the stripe, making only 30-of-51 attempts.
The 51 free throws attempted by the Elasto Painters were the most by any team over the last two seasons since Meralco shot 53 in a 106-97 double overtime loss to B-Meg on December 17, 2010 during the Philippine Cup.
Guiao though gave credit to Air21’s defense, which was consistent throughout the game, forcing Rain or Shine to give up the ball 19 times and allowed the Express to take a five-point lead, 84-79, midway in the fourth quarter until Chan came through in the clutch.
The southpaw Rain or Shine gunner also added four rebounds and four assists to earn Best Player of the Game honor.
Former University of Santo Tomas stalwart Jervy Cruz and Gabe Norwood added 12 points apiece for Rain or Shine.
Air21 drew 21 points from John Wilson, while Canaleta, Isip and Nelbert Omolon chipped in 13, 12, and 11 points, respectively.
The tightly-fought game was marked by two deadlocks and 19 lead changes.
Rain or Shine (99) -- Chan 35, Cruz 12, Norwood, 12, Belga 8, Quinahan 8, Ibanes 7, Tang 5, Arana 5, Rodriguez 4, Jaime 3, Matias 0
Air21 (98) -- Wilson 21, Canaleta 13, Isip 12, Omolon 11, Arboleda 10, Sena 8, Baclao 8, Escobal 6, Taha 4, Ritualo 3, Atkins 2
Quarter scores: 18-26, 43-48, 75-68, 94-94 (reg), 99-98 (OT)