RAIN or Shine fanned its hopes of playing off for a quarterfinals berth by nipping Meralco 83-81 last night in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rich Ross and Rey Nambatac played major roles in a big fourth quarter push by the Elasto Painters that carried them past the Bolts and into their second straight win rounding out their elimination round assignments.
Now with a 4-7 slate, Rain or Shine is left hoping NorthPort loses to Ginebra later in the night and Alaska drops its last game against NLEX at eliminations end on Wednesday for all of them to tie Columbian at seventh.
After the quotient is applied, the Aces take seventh, the Batang Pier would be relegated to 10th while the E-Painters and Dyip figure in a knockout game for the final slot in the eight-team quarterfinals and the right to face the top-ranked team.
A three-way tie for eighth place with Columbian and NorthPort will also push Rain or Shine into the playoff match, but a three-way tie with Alaska and Columbian for eighth boots the E-Painters out.
Meralco could have snared the top seeding in the next round but failed to stretch its five-game streak going into the game.
A large part of the blame was the Bolts’ poor start to the payoff period, when they missed their first six shots and committed four turnovers that fueled the E-Painters’ rise from a 60-69 deficit.
Still, Meralco could have tied the game up when Allen Durham came up with a block and recovery against Jewel Ponferrada in Rain or Shine’s last thrust. Instead of going all the way, however, Durham passed off to Raymond Almazan, who missed a short stab just before the final buzzer.
The loss dropped Meralco to an 8-3 card notwithstanding Durham’s 23 points and 16 rebounds and Almazan’s 18 points and as many rebounds.
Baser Amer also finished with 18 points for the Bolts, who actually led by 13 points twice, the last at 69-56, only to see their drive stalled.
At first, it was Ross who sparked Rain or Shine’s charge with six of his points during the Bolts’ dry spell before Nambatac came in and promptly scattered seven points, the last two off a floater that made it an 82-77 count, 1:28 to go.