RAIN OR SHINE ADVANCES TO Q’FINALS FOR 2ND STRAIGHT CONFERENCE

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20090528

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RAIN OR SHINE ADVANCES TO Q’FINALS FOR 2ND STRAIGHT CONFERENCE




Mercado scores 27 first-half points as Elasto Painters end season for Barako Bull

After losing two opportunities to make it to the semifinals outright, Rain or Shine will have go there the hard way and the Elasto Painters made the first step Wednesday night by eliminating Barako Bull 96-88 to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2009 Motolite Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Sol Mercado scored 11 of his career-high tying 29 points in the second quarter as RoS picked up its rhythm after a slow start and formalized their place in the playoffs for the second straight conference.

“Our true character showed up tonight. We worked hard the past two days and made sure we’re on focus for this game,” said RoS coach Caloy Garcia afterwards.

The win was also a consolation of sorts for the Elasto Painters, who were blown away on Sunday by defending champion Barangay Ginebra in a playoff for the No. 2 seeding and an outright spot in the Final Four.

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t make the semis outright. But we still held our heads high. We made a good run in the classification round,” Garcia offered.

It marked just the second playoff appearance for the Elasto Painters, who also made the quarters of this year’s Motolite Philippine Cup only to be swept by the Sta. Lucia Realtors in two games.

Rain or Shine will play the winner of Friday's knockout game between Purefoods and Talk ‘N Text in a best-of-three series for the right to challenge the Kings in the semis.

For a brief while it looked like the Elasto Painters would be having another tough night.

Needing to wins to advance to the next round, the 10th seeded Barako Bull came out aggressively, kept the game close and led 31-26 after one quarter.

The Energy Boosters even stretched the lead to 36-30 early in the second quarter before Rob Wainwright and Mercado sparked a 20-5 run that shove the Elasto Painters ahead to stay, 50-41, with 2:54 left in the period.

“Right now my worry is Sol’s injury. We have no idea how he pulled his hamstring,” Garcia said.

Mercado, who sat out most of the second half after picking up his fourth foul with still 9:32 left in the third, hurt his hamstring with 5:35 left to play.

“Hopefully, it’s not serious,” Garcia said.

Mercado who booked his third 29 point-game, scored 27 of his points in the first half – the most by a local in a half since SMB’s Dondon Hontiveros did it on Jan 11, 2009 against Barangay Ginebra.

Wainwright scored 16 points, Gabe Norwood added 13 and Jai Lewis had 15 rebounds for Rain or Shine, which secure a second straight playoff appearance after finishing 10th and last and being eliminated early in its first four conferences in the league.

Larry Rodriguez scored a career-high 21 points and Jamaal Williams had 15 to show the way for Barako Bull, which finished the season with a 7-26 (win-loss) record – its worst in franchise history. (DBC)

The scores:

Rain or Shine 96 - Mercado 29, Wainwright 16, Norwood 13, Tang 10, Lewis 8, Arana 6, Reyes 5, Laure 4, Ibanes 3, Isip 2, Dulay 0, Salangsang 0, Ejercito 0.

Barako Bull 88 - Rodriguez 21, Williams 15, Duncil 12, Crisano 10, Espinas 9, Membrere 8, Juntilla 5, Sharma 4, Hrabak 2, Arigo 2, Chan 0, Ybanez 0.

Quarterscores: 28-31, 57-45, 81-64, 88-96.


Source: http://www.pba.ph/content/view/2649/1/
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