RAIN or Shine turned on the heat in the third quarter behind its vaunted running game to beat Blackwater, 102-98, and keep its hopes for a top-two spot alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Engaged in a close game through the first 30 minutes, Rain or Shine finally broke loose behind Wayne Chism, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga who joined hands in a 14-2 blitz that turned a three-point lead into a 70-55 bubble.
The Elasto Painters never looked back from there with Chris Tiu and Paul Lee piling up the points to seal the team's seventh win in 10 games that put it in a three-way tie for the top spot with Purefoods Star and Talk ‘N Text.
Rain or Shine will gain a top two spot and twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals if the three teams still end up tied at the end of the elimination round on Sunday.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, however. isn’t thinking about that for now.
“We don’t have total control of our destiny. We still need to win a game on Sunday (against KIA) and then hope that Meralco or Talk ‘N Text loses one of their games,” said Guiao.
“But whatever it is, we will try to win on Sunday and we’ll be happy with the result. And whether we make the top two or not, that will be a nice performance for us already.”
The win also didn't stop Guiao from taking shots at the referees who he felt were so inconsistent during the game.
“I guess the refs stopped doing their jobs the last few minutes of this game. Kasi kahit nanalo ka, wala kang konsuwelo sa panalo,” said the obviously frustrated Rain or Shine coach, who on Thursday was slapped with a P22,400 fine for nudging former Elasto Painters import Arizona Reid in their 129-114 loss to San Miguel Beer last week.
Guiao was seen confronting one the referees late in the second quarter over what he felt was a wrong non-call on Blackwater Marcus Douthit after Paul Lee scored on a difficult layup.
The 56-year-old veteran PBA coach said he could only hope that the referees will keep their focus come the playoffs.
“Again, I don’t wish to see that this is the precursor of things to come in terms of officiating. In as much as players need to focus on the game, I guess the refs need to focus on their jobs of officiating the game,” he added.
Chism led the Elasto Painters with 30 points and 14 rebounds, while Lee chipped in 14.
Marcus Douthit led the Elite (2-8) with a near triple-double of 34 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists. Val Acuna chipped in 20 while rookie guard Brian Heruela added 15.