Friday, 24 February 2012

Rain or Shine barge into win column in Dubai-leg of PBA Commissioner's Cup

By Alfonso Ramirez

Dubai -- Rain or Shine Elasto Painters escaped a late scare to finally barge into the win column on Thursday night as they defeated the Barako Bull Energy Boosters 99-95 at the Al Shabab Sports Club stadium here.

“It’s a break out win, but I’m not really happy with the way we played . The other team lost their import early so dapat siguro mas convincing yung panalo namin, but a win is a win and were happy for breaking into the win column and that is something that we can use for the game tomorrow. Kung matatalo ka ngayon, bagsak na bagsak ka na for the game tomorrow and it’s an important, big game tomorrow against Ginebra,” Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao told reporters.

The Elasto Painters improved its card to 1-2 and switched places with the Energy Boosters who dropped to the cellar at 1-3. The Elasto Painters are set to go up against crowd favourite Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings at 7pm tonight (Friday).

Energy Boosters coach Junel Baculi could only shake his head when pressed to assess their game.

Baculi had to play All-Filipino most of the game as import Dermarr Johnson was hit by a wayward knee in the groin seven minutes into the game. Johnson limped out of the hard court tallying only three points.

The Elasto Painters, however, failed to dominate the Energy Boosters all-Filipino crew and even trailed by as many as 11, 39-50, late in the second period.

Guiao credited the Energy Boosters’ fluid game, which kept them in the game.

“To give credit to Barako. Maganda rin ang nilaro nila. They’ve kept pace with us despite losing their import early. Their locals stepped up and we had problems stopping their 3pt shots,” he told InterAKTV.

Willard Cruze, who is in danger of being dismissed after the Elasto Painters’ back-to-back losses, scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but it was center Beau Belga who sparked an endgame rally that catapulted Rain or Shine to its first win in the conference.

“Beau Belga played really well in the endgame. He was in foul trouble, but I took a gamble on him and it paid off,”Guiao said.

Matching his personal best in the league with a huge 20-point effort, Belga hit his final points in the game where it counted most, draining a momentum-grabbing three-pointer with less than four minutes on the clock that kick-started a short but telling run, turning an 86-all deadlock into a 96-92 cushion entering the final minute.

Although Belga missed two free throws with 48 seconds on the clock, Wynne Arboleda and the the Elasto Painter’s go-to-guy Willie Miller failed to connect on two successive possessions allowing Jeffrey Chan and Gabe Norwood to seal their first win from the free-throw line.

Belga said it was Guiao who gave him the license to shoot: “When I hit my first shot, that got my confidence going. I just kept on shooting whenever I was free. That was what coach wanted us to do.”

The Energy Boosters, which led most of the game, posted a 71-68 cushion entering the fourth and extended it to 78-72 when Belga scored five points to lead a 10-2 blast that put Elasto Painters in front, 82-80, with eight minutes remaining.

Miller came off the bench and scored the Energy Boosters’ next six points to level the score for the last time, 86-all, before Belga – the best player of the game – regained the momentum with a go-ahead 3-pointer.

“I’m not really happy with the way we played,” said Guiao, citing his team’s lack of aggressiveness on defense as a major cause for concern. “The other team lost their import early, so we should have won convincingly. But a win is still a win. It is still something we can use to energize ourselves for the game against Ginebra.”

While crossing his fingers that they can further level up in the standings, Guiao said they will have to further improve their quality of play against Ginebra if they want to go back to Manila with a 2-2 record.

“Totally different yung magiging game plan bukas. Yung import nila (Chris Alexander), 7-footer na magaling so we have to defend the low post a lot better than what we did today,” he said.

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