UNDERMANNED Rain or Shine leaned on superb back-ups TY Tang and Jonathan Uyloan down the stretch in a big 83-74 win over defending champion Purefoods in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tang and Uyloan scored five straight points entering the final two minutes to hold off the rallying Hotshots, who came charging back from a 54-68 deficit early in the fourth to threaten at 75-72.
Tang followed up his own miss by beating Marc Pingris for a rebound before Uyloan nailed a long three-pointer off a Paul Lee assist to cap the Elasto Painters’ closing 5-0 run that stretched the lead back to 80-72 in the final 1:50.
“They may be unknowns, but they made their presence felt,” said coach Yeng Guiao of Tang and Uyloan, who finished with 11 and 9 points, respectively.
The Elasto Painters improved to 7-2 overall as they won their fifth straight games. More importantly, they kept alive their bid for one of two outright berths in the semifinals behind league leaders Alaska (8-1) and San Miguel (8-1).
“Even though we have a tough lineup of teams to win against, as long as we're winning, as long as we're keeping our semis hopes alive, we're trying for that,” added Guiao, who missed the services of injured players Jeff Chan, Jervy Cruz, Jeric Teng, and Chris Tiu.
Paul Lee had 18 points to lead all Rain or Shine scorers, with Gabe Norwood and the comebacking JR Quinahan adding 11 apiece.
The Hotshots suffered their first loss after stringing up four straight wins and fell to 5-4 overall.
Alex Mallari topscored for the reigning champions with 12 points, including a completed three-point play off a Lee foul that pushed the Hotshots to within 72-75.
But Tang and Uyloan came to the Elasto Painters’ rescue with their clutch plays going home.
“Purefoods is one of the hardest teams to beat,” said Guiao. “I couldn’t give the guys enough credit tonight. They just put in an effort.”
RAIN OR SHINE (83) - Lee 18, Tang 11, Norwood 11, Quinahan 11, Uyloan 9, Belga 7, Cruz Jericho 6, Arana 6, Almazan 4, Ibanes 0.
PUREFOODS (74) - Mallari 12, Yap 11, Devance 10, Simon 9, Melton 8, Barroca 8, Pingris 6, Maliksi 5, Reavis 4, Taha 1, Allado 0, Gaco 0, Holstein 0.
Quarterscores: 16-17; 38-32; 60-54; 83-74.