Rain or Shine takes 2-0 lead over SMB as late Lassiter trey comes a split second too late
RoS import Pierre Henderson Niles flexes his muscles after the great escape. Jaime Campos

RAIN or Shine survived a late scare from San Miguel Beer to hold on to a 98-96 victory on Tuesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum and move on the verge of a finals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The Elasto Painters saw a late 11-point lead almost disintegrate after letting the Beermen embark on a comeback, but pulled off the escape act when Marcio Lassiter's desperation three-pointer failed to beat the final buzzer by a split second.

JR Quinahan and Maverick Ahanmisi provided the cushion the E-Painters needed in withstanding the Beermen’s late stand led by Alex Cabagnot and Tyler Wilkerson.

“I’m overwhelmed by how the players played,” said E-Painters assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who took over temporarily for Yeng Guiao after the head coach had to attend a previous engagement.

“But we still have to work on other stuff because we know that San Miguel is capable to come back.”

The E-Painters can go for a sweep in Game Three on Thursday at the Philsports Arena.

ROS appeared poised for a runaway victory when it built a 93-82 lead with a little over four minutes left, before the Beermen went on an 11-2 run capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Cabagnot, the second with 34.1 seconds left tha trimmed the deficit to just two, 95-93.

After the match turned into a free-throw shooting contest, the Beermen had the chance to escape with the win and Lassiter ready to redeem his shooting woes as he buried a desperation triple that, however, didn’t count.

Jericho Cruz led the E-Painters with 16 points, while Quinahan fired all his nine markers in the payoff period where Ahanmisi scored six of his 10 that followed up his career-high 23 points in the series opener.

Pierre Henderson clogged the lanes as usual to end up with 16 rebounds and his best scoring output of 15 points in 37 minutes.

That was enough to negate Wilkderson’s 35-point, 18-rebound, five-assist, and two-block performance for the Beermen. 

The scores:

Rain or Shine 98 - Cruz 16, Henderson-Niles 15, Chan 14, Ahanmisi 10, Quinahan 9, Almazan 7, Tiu 7, Lee 6, Belga 5, Ibanes 4, Norwood 3, Ponferada 2.

SMB 96 - Wilkerson 35, Ross 15, Fajardo 14, Cabagnot 13, Santos 8, David 5, Lassiter 3, Tubid 3, Heruela 0, Reyes 0.

Quarters: 21-28, 45-46, 69-66, 98-96

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos