Games Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Kia
7 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs Meralco
With the No. 44 sewn on the left of the players’ jerseys and a black arm band worn by the coaching staff, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters paid tribute last night to the fallen SAF heroes in Maguindanao even as they fended off a last-ditch comeback by the NLEX Road Warriors.
While the thrill of victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup approximates in no way the grief and agony suffered by family and friends of the 44 slain elite police officers, ROS coach Yeng Guiao said he believed a simple gesture of sympathy was in order.
“It’s our small tribute to the forty-four who perished in that unfortunate incident,” Guiao said following the Elasto Painters’ 96-91 win over NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Gusto namin bigyan ng pagpapahalaga ang kanilang sakrispisyo at upang makiramay na rin sa kanilang mga pamilya,” said Guiao.
The idea was his, Guiao said, but the green light to implement it came from Rain or Shine team owners Terry Que and Raymond Yu.
“I asked my bosses if they are amenable and without thinking, they approved the idea,” said the congressman from the first district of Pampanga, adding they have yet to decide whether to wear the patch and the arm band for the rest of the conference.
Asked whether they were protesting the way the police operation was handled, Guiao flatly said, “No, we’re not; we’re just sympathizing.”
Guiao’s post-game interview remarks on the so-called Mamasapano Massacre eclipsed somehow his earlier statements on the struggle the undersized E-Painters went through against the Road Warriors.
“We had a hard time with their size in the second half,” said Guiao. “And that will be our problem throughout this conference: how to cope with the size difference against other teams.”
Debuting NLEX did enjoy a 55-46 advantage in rebounds and a 42-38 edge on points in the paint. But ROS shot better from the floor overall (42 percent to 37 percent), offsetting a 25 to 16 free throw conversion by the Road Warriors, and connected on 10 3-point shots.
The E-Painters also got Paul Lee to take care of business in the end.
Lee had 25 points, including ROS’ final 6 points, to keep NLEX at bay as ROS rebounded from an 89-86 loss to Talk ‘N Text a few days ago.
After Rudy Lingganay hit his fourth 3-pointer to cut ROS’ lead, 92-87, with 1:29 remaining, Lee faked Asi Taulava off his feet on the 3-point arc and stepped in for a 16-foot jumper.
The former University of the East star then hit a leaning banked shot against Mark Borboran to make it 94-89 with 20.7 seconds left before sinking two free throws near the end.
Former NBA first round draft and All-Rookie team member Al Thornton debuted with 28 points and 12 rebounds for NLEX, but he started cold as ROS opened a quick 15-3 lead.
Richard Jackson, ROS’ replacement for the unavailable Wayne Chism, had 17 points and 20 rebounds, just enough numbers to keep Guiao satisfied for now.
“I’m not saying we’re settled with him, but as long as we’re winning and he’s providing what we need from a big man, he can stay,” said Guiao.
Jackson just had one free throw in the last quarter, but Lee covered for him with 8 points and Gabe Norwood and Jonathan Uyloan 6 points each.
Meanwhile, Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer takes on winless Kia Motors at 4:15 p.m. at the Big Dome followed by the battle for solo lead between Talk ‘N Text and Meralco.
RAIN OR SHINE 96 – Lee 25, Jackson 17, Almazan 10, Uyloan 9, Norwood 8, Chan 8, Arana 6, Ibanes 5, Cruz 4, Tang 2, Belga 2, Tiu 0, Quinahan 0.
NLEX 91 – Thornton 28, Lingganay 19, Taulava 17, Cardona 7, Borboran 6, Ramos 6, Villanueva J. 4, Canaleta 2, Villanueva E. 2, Hermida 0, Camson 0, Apinan 0, Arboleda 0, Baloria 0, Soyud 0.
Quarters: 25-18, 43-34, 73-65, 96-91