PBA: Rain or Shine, Coca-Cola set for duel
MANILA, Philippines - Rain or Shine and Coca-Cola arranged another knockout duel after beating their respective rivals in the wildcard stage of the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The No. 9 seed Elasto Painters downed the No. 6 Sta. Lucia Realty, 90-86, while the No. 7 Tigers survived No. 8 Burger King, 118-112, to set up another do-or-die game on Wednesday for the last quarterfinal seat.
Veteran forward Eddie Laure converted a crucial finger-roll attempt over Realtors center Marlou Aquino in the closing seconds that sealed the win for Rain or Shine.
Ex-Whopper Gary David completed a three-point play while RJ Rizada had a crucial putback that allowed the Tigers to weather the spirited rally of Burger King, which came back from 21 points down early in the fourth but lost steam in the end.
David led Coke with 21 points to spoil the conference-highs of ex-teammates Ronjay Buenafe (27 points) and Ronnie Matias (23 points, career-best).
Sol Mercado netted 18 points and 7 rebounds to lead the balanced attack of the Elasto Painters (4-14), who entered the game as underdogs as they were six games behind the 10-8 Realtors.
“We worked hard in practice because Sta. Lucia is a tough team to beat. We were just lucky tonight,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia. “Almost everybody stepped out tonight for us.”
Gabe Norwood added 15 points while Jeff Chan and Ryan Arana chipped in 14 and 13 markers respectively.
Laure finished with just 8 points but none bigger than his assurance basket in the final 11 seconds of the game.
Kelly Williams led Sta. Lucia with 27 points and 18 rebounds, his 16th double-double performance in the conference, while rookie Josh Urbiztondo added 20 markers on 6-of-9 shooting from the three-point area.
Marlou Aquino and Joseph Yeo chipped in 16 and 12 points respectively for Realtors mentor Boyet Fernandez, who got only 4 points apiece from Nelbert Omolon and Ryan Reyes.
Sta. Lucia was actually in the lead at 77-74 when Chan drilled two to highlight an 8-0 run to grab an 82-77 lead.
The Realtors quickly got back at 83-86 before Norwood hit a jumper for an 88-83 lead. Urbiztondo banged in a triple to put SLR within striking distance, 86-88 and the Realtors got the chance to tie or take the lead after Norwood missed his three-point attempt.
Mercado lost control of the leather but was able to throw the ball to Laure who scored on a scooping lay-up over Aquino to beat the shot clock, 90-86, 11.4 ticks left.
Urbiztondo’s 3-point attempt was way off the target and Norwood secured the board to send Rain or Shine in another playoff encounter.