UNTIL it fell in ambush in its last two outings, Rain or Shine has enjoyed one of the longest streaks this conference in the PBA.
Now, the Elasto Painters are hard-pressed to nail this one against Meralco to gain a chance for the top two slots after the 11-game elimination of the Philippine Cup.
“We have to learn from this because we have one more game before we end the eliminations,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.
He was referring to the Elasto Painters’ 100-92 loss to Talk ‘N Text last March 3 and 85-82 setback at the hands of Columbian Dyip last March 6 in a pair of losses that stalled what looked like a handsome chance for one of the two slots that offer the luxury of having to win only once in the quarterfinal round to make the semifinal round right away.
“We have to go hard against Meralco if we want a chance to get one of the Top Two spots," added Garcia.
The Elasto Painters close out their elimination campaign when they play Meralco at 7 p.m. main offering of a crucial doubleheader that will also see Alaska and Talk ‘N Text collide in the first tussle at 4:30 p.m. today at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The game is so critical for the Elasto Painters because even if they beat the Bolts, they would have a strong chance at finishing in the Top Two with a superior quotient in case of a tie.
The E-Painters are at second place at 7-3 behind Phoenix which totes an 8-2 slate. Closely following them are San Miguel Beermen at 6-3, the TNT KaTropa at 5-3 and the Barangay Ginebra Kings at 4-3.
Rain or Shine has beaten Phoenix, San Miguel and Ginebra, with TNT being the lone Top Two contender that won over ROS.
Just as important is the game for the Bolts who are needing to make the most of their last three games to make the eight-team quarterfinal phase.
The Bolts are carrying a 3-5 slate good for tenth place. They won in their last outing against NorthPort which they defeated in double overtime last week. They still have three more games to play in the elimination.
The Bolts wove a strong finish in regulation, then rallied in the first extension, before they finally seized control in the second extension for the crucial win.
"There was really a time when it was dim for us, but then we executed some plays and gave us a chance to win it in overtime," said Meralco coach Norman Black.
"That's a hard-fought game between two teams fighting to stay in the running for the playoffs, especially us. I'm happy we never gave up," added Black.