PAUL Lee hit a dagger three-pointer late in overtime as Rain or Shine pulled off a 99-95 win over Petron to end the Blaze Boosters' unbeaten start to the season on Saturday night in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Saturday showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Lee and Jervy Cruz combined for 11 of the E-Painters’ 12 points in overtime, none bigger than a three-pointer from the left corner by the 'Lee-thal Weapon' that finally cut Petron down to size after a run of seven successive victories to start the season.
“We just had to grind it out. We played a bad first half but we made up for it in the second half,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, who, after seeing the Painters end a two-game losing streak, still couldn't resist taking a dig at the referees.
“We couldn’t get the breaks from the refs, so we had to create our own breaks.”
Dominated for the most part by Petron and trailing by as many as 15 points late in the first half, the E-Painters chewed the Boosters’ lead little by little behind the efforts of Cruz, Lee and JR Quinahan who got the better of fellow Cebuano June Mar Fajardo.
The sophomore Fajardo scored 22 points but was outshone by Quinahan in the final period before fouling out in the early moments of the extra period.
Still, Guiao was unhappy with the officiating after the game, pointing to two crucial calls late in regulation where he said the referees almost decided the outcome.
With Rain or Shine holding on to a precarious 87-85 lead with 14.3 seconds left in regulation play and Petron’s Chris Lutz sent to the foul line by Gabe Norwood, the referees called a discorcerting violation on Ryan Arana for entering the keyhole while Lutz shot the charity.
Lutz missed but got a reprieve after being given two more free throws. He made both to send the game into overtime.
“Dalawa yung crucial (call) dun eh. No. 1 was the disconcerting call which I thought was unnecessary because the refs tried to decide the game,” Guiao pointed out.
“And then the second was when Gabe took a pull-up jumper and then he was hit in the elbow. It happened in front of me. But the refs didn’t call a foul. Those two crucial calls in the last two minutes, we just absorbed them and overcame them.”
The win moved Rain or Shine to 5-3, just half a game behind Talk ‘N Text’s 5-2 record to occupy solo fourth in the standings.
On the other hand, Petron dropped into a share of first place with sister team Barangay Ginebra at 7-1 after the Gin Kings earlier ambushed the Alaska Aces, 96-89.