RAIN or Shine survived the late-game explosion of Gary David to pull off a heart-stopping 97-96 overtime victory against a tough Meralco side to advance to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Paul Lee nailed two big free throws late to bail out the Elasto Painters, who opened big leads late in regulation and early in overtime but had to weather David-led Meralco uprisings each time at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
David, scoreless in the first half, exploded for 20 points in the second half and overtime. His corner shot in front of Rain or Shine import Wayne Chism with four seconds left capped an 11-0 fourth quarter windup by Meralco that forced extra time.
And just when the Elasto Painters looked to have put the highly-physical game away in overtime, David nailed back-to-back three-point shots to push the Bolts within, 93-95 with 1:16 to go in the game.
“It’s another grind-out game,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao after steering the team to the 2-1 win in the best-of-three series and a semfinal date with undefeated top seed Talk ‘N Text.
Guiao, who was fined P100,000 for his post-Game Two verbal insult on Meralco’s Cliff Hodge, couldn’t hide his displeasure once more over officiating despite the series-clinching win.
“I thought the refs missed a lot of fouls in this game,” he said.
The Rain or Shine mentor was particularly irked when David shoved Jeff Chan, before taking a pass and in the process, nailing the first of his three three-pointers in the extra session.
“One was the (David) foul by just erasing Jeff Chan and making the (three-point) shot. I don’t know how he (David) can just erase somebody and not be seen by the referee,” said Guiao.
But he also gave credit to Chism, who easily had his best game in the PBA after finishing with 37 points and 21 rebounds, to go along with four assists, three blocks and two steals in a no-relief 53-minute job.
“He (Chism) just carried us on his shoulders. He’s a far more superior import than (Darnell) Jackson,” Guiao said in commending the former Tennessee big man.
For the Bolts, the quarterfinal loss marked the third straight time they blew a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the Commissioner's Cup playoffs, having lost to B-Meg and San Mig Coffee the two previous seasons.
Jackson led the Bolts with 31 points but appeared to tire out in the end.
Rain or Shine 97 - Chism 37, Lee 18, Belga 9, Norwood 8, Chan 7, Cruz 4, Almazan 4, Tiu 4, Ibanes 4, Arana 2, Tang 0.
Meralco 96 - Jackson 31, David 20, Salvacion 18, Hugnatan 6, Dillinger 5, Hodge 5, Al-Hussaini 4, Wilson 4, Sena 3, Timberlake 0, Caram 0.
Quarterscores: 20-28, 48-46, 70-66, 85-85, 97-96