Rain or Shine proved steadier in the endgame as it survived Meralco, 81-77, on Friday to all but clinch a semifinal spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Trailing, 77-76, the Painters scored the last five points of the game — all from the charity stripe — to turn the game around and win the see-saw affair.
Import Jamelle Cornley scored 21 points to go with 10 boards for the Painters, who now hold a 5-1 win-loss card and are tied for first place with B-Meg.
Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood converted the five free throws down the stretch. Lee finished with 16 points and four assists, while Norwood added 10 points and eight rebounds.
“I’m happy with the way we’re handling the pressure and closing out games,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said.
“Paul Lee is giving us the necessary lift and leadership we need from our point guard,” he added.
Bolts import Mario West scored 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter, where his squad enjoyed a seven-point lead.
But he scored only two points the rest of the way and committed a costly turnover with 22.6 seconds left that doomed Meralco.
“We just played a lot harder in the second half,” Guiao said. “We found a way to minimize the production of their import.”
“He almost beat us by himself,” Guiao added.
The Bolts, who fell to 2-4, went scoreless after Sol Mercado’s jumper with 50.4 ticks remaining gave them that 77-76 lead.
Up next for Rain or Shine is Barako Bull on Sunday.
“We just need to keep the momentum going,” Guiao said.
Rain or Shine 81 – Cornley 21, Lee 16, Norwood 10, Cruz 6, Chan 6, Quinahan 6, Buenafe 6, Matias 4, Jaime 4, Ibanes 2, Tang 0, Belga 0
Meralco 77 – West 23, Taulava 15, Cardona 12, Mercado 9, Bulawan 6, Hugnatan 6, Ross 3, Reyes 3, Macapagal 0, Artadi 0
Quarterscores: 18-17, 32-35, 59-59, 81-77