RAIN or Shine relied on its relentless running game in the fourth quarter to pull away from Meralco, 99-86, in Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters took a huge 26-2 advantage in fastbreak points while their defense kept Meralco import Josh Davis from doing any damage in the paint to open a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five playoff.
Import Wayne Chism dropped 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter to lead the way for top-seeded Rain or Shine, which has yet to drop a game in the playoffs after dispatching No. 8 Ginebra.
“We just broke away in the fourth quarter but again, it’s our experience that gave us that advantage of being able to play a good finish in this game,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
Guiao also commended his shock troopers, particularly rookie Jericho Cruz, Chris Tiu and sophomore big man Raymond Almazan for providing the additional scoring punch during the crucial stretch of the second half.
The three accounted for 23 of Rain or Shine’s 50 bench points, which enabled Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee and Chism to stay fresh enough to preside over the game-clinching run in the final period.
Cruz, a rookie out of Adamson, helped contain Meralco’s veteran gunner Gary David in the second half. David led the Bolts with 14 points, but he only had five in the second half.
Davis finished with only 11 points for the Bolts, who were coming off a two-game sweep of sister team NLEX in their quarterfinal series.
Still, Guiao said the Elasto Painters will have to be on their toes since the Bolts will have enough time to plot a comeback during the league's Lenten break.
“This is just the first game. So it’s far from over. We have a long break before Sunday’s game so they are going to make the adjustments,” he said.