by TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – Even a lifetime sniper like Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan sometimes has to get his shots off at close range.
Chan had two fast break layups and a pair of free throws in the final 1:42 yesterday as Rain or Shine hang on to beat tenacious Barako Bull, 96-93, in a bruising encounter in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the threat of a dangerous slide to 9th spot in the one-round elimination looming above them, both teams fought through 8 deadlocks and 15 leadchanges before Rain or Shine came through for its second win in five games to move to solo 7th place.
The Energy Colas led 90-85 with 4:45 remaining but were shut down in the next 3 ½ minutes as the Elasto Painters went on a 9-0 run, with Willie Miller’s way-out three-point attempt hitting the back iron at the buzzer and sealing Barako Bull’s 4th loss in five games.
Arizona Reid powered Rain or Shine with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists, refusing to be overshadowed by the monster game of Barako Bull import Eric Wise, who unloaded 41 points with 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in 44 minutes.
The E-Colas have nobody else to blame but themselves for failing to back up Wise in the crucial stretch when the E-Painters were pouring everything on a last-ditch comeback sparked by an under goal basket and a free throw by Beau Belga that made it 90-88.
Back-to-back misses by Mick Pennisi and JC Intal set up Chan for a breakaway layup that tied the game at the 2:20 mark. Intal missed another banked shot and Reid hit the go-ahead 15-footer, 92-90, against the worn-out Wise, whose last basket came with 6:27 remaining and had only one attempt (4:30) the rest of the way.
The E-Colas called time but rookie playmaker Jeric Fortuna, who has been taking matters into his own hands as of late, failed to get the ball to Wise and took the shot instead. He missed and Chan made Barako Bull pay with two more free throws, 94-90.
Mick Pennisi, who has been enjoying some sort of renaissance himself apart from Air21’s Asi Taulava, buried a long top-of-the-key 3-pointer for 94-93 and Rain or Shine left the door open when Gabe Norwood’s triple fell short with 41 seconds to go.
Again, however, the E-Colas couldn’t get Wise involved in a most important play, with Fortuna and Intal firing away and setting the stage for yet another Chan fast break, 96-93, with 13 seconds on the clock.
Even in the end, it wasn’t their import but Miller who launched the potential game-tying 3, with the exhausted Wise bowed with both hands on his knees at the buzzer.
“Barako Bull has been really tough and their records do not really show how good this team is. We just had a little bit more experience as a team and that has been put to good use this game; that’s our advantage. But we’re still struggling; we haven’t reached out peak potential. Pahirapan talaga every game sa’min.”
Meanwhile, in what fans of both teams had been waiting for since it was announced San Mig Super Coffee assistant Jeffrey Cariaso has accepted the offer to coach Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the unbeaten Kings (3-0) and the Grand Slam-seeking Mixers (3-1) clash on blockbuster Sunday at 5:15 p.m.
Cariaso will face the man whom he played for when both were with Alaska and who brought him back from the States to sit as his lieutenant on the Mixers bench – Tim Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach who is eyeing his second Grand Slam.
Kicking off today’s action at the Big Dome is the game pitting the Meralco Bolts (0-4) and the Alaska Aces (3-1).
RAIN OR SHINE 96 – Reid 34, Chan 15, Lee 12, Uyloan 8, Belga 8, Norwood 7, Almazan 4, Arana 3, Cruz 2, Rodriguez 2, Tiu 1, Tang 0, Nuyles 0, Teng 0.
BARAKO BULL 93 – Wise 41, Fortuna 14, Jensen 10, Pennisi 9, Intal 5, Wilson 4, Miller 3, Marcelo 3, Lastimosa 2, Labagala 2, Thiele 0, Buenafe 0.
Quarters: 26-27, 49-46, 76-72, 96-93
TALK N’ TEXT 103 – Carney 28, Castro 21, Alapag 18, Fonacier 8, Baclao 8, Williams 7, De Ocampo 6, Canaleta 5, Reyes Ryan 2, Reyes Rob 0, Carey 0.
SAN MIGUEL BEER 97 – Williams 33, Fajardo 20, Santos 18, Kramer 8, Mercado 7, Tubid 5, Lutz 4, Lanete 2, Maierhofer 0, Duncil 0, Chua 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 44-38, 76-73, 103-97