Rain or Shine bucked the ejection of coach Yeng Guiao late in the first half and scored a 99-86 win over Meralco to get back on track for its first ever finals appearance Sunday in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao was thrown out with 2.9 seconds remaining in the second period after getting back-to-back technical fouls, but this did not dampen the spirit of the Elasto Painters.
Beau Belga, rookie Paul Lee and import Jamelle Cornley led Rain or Shine’s decisive run in the fourth period to bounce back from a loss to Petron Blaze and improve the team’s league-leading win-loss mark to 9-2.
“This team is used to winning without me. There’s nothing unusual in this game,” said Guiao.
“Coach Caloy (Garcia) and the assistants are capable of taking over any time. They know the game plan and they are part of the formulation of the game plan.”
The Bolts were still in the thick of things after Mario West completed a three-point play to give his team a 76-75 advantage with under nine minutes remaining.
But the troika of Belga, Lee and Cornley anchored a 21-6 explosion capped by Lee’s three-pointer to put the game out of reach, 96-82, 2:32 left in the game.
Cornley led the Elasto Painters with 21 points and 14 rebounds while Lee added 16 points. Ronjay Buenafe chipped in 10.
“I’m really hoping we can get more wins as much as we can but I think this win assured us at least a playoff for the finals,” said Guiao.
West led all scorers with 33 points to lead Meralco, which absorbed its second straight loss in the semifinals to bomb out in the race for the four-of-five incentive.
Mark Cardona and Chris Ross netted 19 and 15 points respectively for the squad of coach Ryan Gregorio.
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