Rain or Shine may be grieving but Jeff Chan made sure to give the Elasto Painters a perfect tonic.
The sweet-shooting Chan capped a virtuoso performance with a game-clinching fade-away jumper that helped Rain or Shine escape past gritty Air21 in overtime, 99-98, Friday night and get back on track in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Named last season’s Most Improved Player, Chan sizzled throughout with a career-high 35 points, 15 coming in a fiery second quarter showing, in an efficient 11-of-14 shooting from the field as the E-Painters bounced back from a 94-98 setback inflicted by Brgy. Ginebra last Sunday.
More importantly, Rain or Shine gained a timely boost after losing assistant coach Roehl Nadurata recently to lung cancer.
“Stay focus at relax lang ako (in taking the winning shot),” said Chan, who also dished four dimes. “Coach Roehl, para sa iyo ‘to.”
Jervy Cruz and Fil-Am Gabe Norwood added 12 apiece for the E-Painters, who bungled 21 of their 51 attempts from the line, something that left a bitter taste in the mouth of coach Yeng Guiao.
“We just had to do it the hard way. We missed a lot of free throws. If we made our free throws, we would have been in a better situation and not had to go through OT. We’re just lucky to get out of that situation and was able to salvage a win,” Guiao noted.
John Wilson clustered a career-high 21 points, including three triples, before fouling out at the tail-end of the final quarter but veteran KG Canaleta gamely took over the Express offense.
The 6-foot-4 Canaleta, who added 13 points, sent the game into overtime by forging a 94-all count off with a triple off a Wynne Arboleda feed and even put Air21 98-97 with a hook shot with just 37.6 seconds left.
But Chan wouldn’t allow the E-Painters to be denied.
Pitted against Arboleda, Chan drove strong to the right, stepped to his left to avoid a phalanx of Express defenders then leaned back to release the leather that found the bottom of the net, virtually pegging the final count with 15 seconds left.
Air21 still had a chance to steal the victory but Arboleda muffed his jumper at the baseline and Canaleta, who eventually got the rebound, lost control of the ball against a suffocating Rain or Shine defense as time expired.
“Chan’s offense for the most part carried us through. Baka magulat (si Coach Roehl) at bumangon. I’m sure he’s happy to see us win,” added Guiao.
Earlier, Ranidel de Ocampo drilled in the game-clinching three pointer with 9.2 seconds left to help defending champion Talk ‘N Text overcome a late-charging GlobalPort, 108-104.
The 6-foot-6 De Ocampo got a timely hand-off pass from Larry Fonacier then uncorked a dagger of a trey as the Tropang Texters made the Batang Pier pay dearly for their inability to crash the board while averting a fourth-quarter meltdown.
The late-game heroics of De Ocampo, who finished with 15 markers, preserved the 30-point explosion of cat-quick guard Jason Castro, who tallied 11 in the fourth, and enabled TNT to gain a share of the lead with a 2-0 mark alongside idle Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel.
The Batang Pier, who missed the services of three-time scoring champion Gary David due to a swollen knee, trailed by as many as 70-86 but suddenly played true to their form in the payoff period behind rejuvenated center Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Willie Miller and rookie Vic Manuel.
GlobalPort’s uprising in the final quarter where it even led 94-93 off a Manuel inside incursion forced TNT coach Norman Black to take control of the Texters’ plays from assistant coach Nash Racela.
“I did not plan to coach hands-on tonight, but I guess the adrenaline and the juices started to flow. So at the end, I tried to take control more,” stated Black, fresh from steering Ateneo to a ‘five-peat’ in the UAAP men’s basketball championships.
“It’s still a work in progress for me. Players are still learning my system offensively.”
Miller, a former two-time MVP, tallied 22 points while the do-it-all Manuel sparkled with a career-high 21 markers, draining all but three of his 13 attempts from the field and Al-Hussaini contributed 17 for GlobalPort, who remained winless in three starts.
Talk ‘N Text 108 – Castro 30, Reyes 19, Fonacier 19, De Ocampo 15, Williams 11, Alapag 5, Peek 4, Carey 3, Gamalinda 2, Raymundo 0, Alvarez 0
GlobalPort 104 – Miller 22, Manuel 21, Al-Hussaini 17, Salvador 9, Vanlandingham 8, Deutchman 7, Guevara 6, Yee 6, Mandani 4, Antonio 2, Lingganay 0
Quarter scores: 32-31, 57-52, 86-74, 108-104
Rain or Shine 99 – Chan 35, Cruz 12, Norwood 12, Belga 8, Quinahan 8, Ibanes 7, Arana 5, Tang 5, Jaime 3, Matias 0.
Air21 98 – Wilson 21, Canaleta 13, Isip 12, Omolon 11, Arboleda 10, Sena 8, Baclao 8, Escobal 6, Taha 4, Ritualo 3, Atkins 2.
Quarters: 18-26, 43-48, 75-68, 94-94, 99-98
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