RAIN or Shine survived a foul trouble for its import and a spirited stand by Air21 to pull through with a 99-97 win on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters vaulted to a share of second place with idle Petron following their third straight win, but had to endure anxious moments in the second half as import Bruno Sundov wrestled with foul trouble.
The 7-3 Sundov, who finished the game with just 17 points and five boards, fouled out with 1:15 remaining in the game and the Express breathing down the Elasto Painters' neck.
“We got really lucky in this game. Our import was in foul trouble for most of the second half. He played very little minutes and fouled out,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“We were really having problems matching up with their import especially on the low post. Plus, they were hitting shots from three,” he added.
Air21 kept the game close in the second half and twice had two offensive thrusts with Rain or Shine up by just two, but Wynne Arboleda missed a wide-open trey while Mike Cortez issued a lob pass that was way off import Michael Dunigan's reach.
"It’s really fortunate that they made a bad pass in the last play. If it had gone into overtime, it could have been difficult to win this game,” said Guiao.
Dunigan scattered 17 of his 22 points in the final half, taking advantage of the foul-plagued Sundov’s absence.
“We doubled the big man (Dunigan) a bit because they were hitting their shots with their kickouts," Guiao said.
Air21 absorbed its third straight loss since opening the conference with a 74-70 victory against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Last year’s top rookie Paul Lee led Rain or Shine’s locals with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Ryan Arana added 11, three boards and four assists as he again ably filled the void left by injured gunner Jeff Chan (fractured left finger).
Rain or Shine 99 - Sundov 17, Lee 15, Arana 11, Quinahan 9, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Matias 7, Cruz 6, Uyloan 5, Belga 5, Tiu 4, Ibanes 4
Air21 97 - Dunigan 22, Canaleta 18, Isip 14, Cortez 14, Wilson 11, Arboleda 9, Atkins 4, Reyes 3, Omolon 1, Ritualo 1, Sena 0, Baclao 0, Custodio 0
Quarterscores: 26-20, 43-41, 74-72, 99-97