MANILA – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters relied on splits from the line to escape with an 88-85 win over Meralco Bolts in the 2019 Honda PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Gabriel Norwood and Beau Belga combined for 3-of-6 from the free throw line in the final seven seconds to break the 85-all deadlock and snap the Painters’ two-game losing skid.
Negrense James Yap tallied 14 points. Eduardo Daquioag added 12 markers while Maverick Ahanmisi and Javee Mocon submitted 10 points each.
The Painters ended the elimination round with 8-3 win-loss slate but struggled early in the game and fell by as much as six points.
But it rallied back in the second period behind Kris Rosales and Rey Nambatac to take a 44-35 halftime lead.
Rain or Shine went on to build its largest lead in the third canto at 59-47 on a triple by Norbert Torres but Meralco leaned on Nicholas Salva and Reynel Hugnatan to inch closer at 65-66.
The Painters managed to create distance at 76-67 after a triple by Yap. The Bolts countered with hits from Salva and Hugnatan to take an 85-83 edge.
The Rain or Shine, however, quickly gave the last tie of the game on a layup by Ahanmisi.
Salva finished with 18 points, 16 coming in the second half, while Bacolodnon Hugnatan contributed 16 markers and six rebounds for the Bolts which slumped down to 3-6 win-loss record.
Meanwhile, TNT KaTropa continued its scorching run after a dominant 92-78 victory over the shorthanded Alaska Aces to cruise to a share of third place with San Miguel Beermen at 6-3.
From a close start, the KaTropa started to create distance from the Aces in the second frame behind Jeth Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy for a 58-45 lead early in the third canto.
Aces attempted to make a comeback and was able to trim the deficit to 53-60 but the KaTropa pulled away for good in the fourth quarter as a triple by Pogoy and inside baskets from Yousef Taha pushed the lead to its largest at 85-65.
Pogoy finished with 24 points, including five three-point conversions, while Rosario added 15 markers for the KaTropa.
Carl Bryan Cruz top-scored with 19 points for the Aces, which slumped to 3-5./PN