Chris Tiu calmly drained four crucial free throws in the endgame of Rain or Shine's 99-96 overtime win over Magnolia on Saturday.
Both successful trips to the stripe were in response to the Hotshots' efforts to trim their deficit to just one. Tiu calmly sunk the freebies to give enough cushion for the Elasto Painters, who took sole possession of first place in the standings.
Prior to draining his pressure-packed charities, the veteran point guard committed a costly mistake.
Rain or Shine was holding on to a 95-94 lead, 59 seconds left, when Tiu made an errant pass that Magnolia import Curtis Kelly was able to intercept. The Elasto Painters were quick to set up their transition defense, which allowed them to force the ball off the hands of Kelly on his way to the basket.
"It's a good thing that our defense held up and we were able to make stops when it mattered," said Tiu.
Determined to make up for his earlier error, Tiu made sure to knock down all his foul shots in the final 16 seconds of the contest.
"Nobody wants to miss any free throw in whatever stage of the game, more so in the endgame. At least in a way, I was able to redeem myself from the turnover," he said.
This is the third time this conference that the Elasto Painters showcased their resilience by surviving their opponents in overtime, with Alaska and San Miguel as their first two victims.
"Most of our wins are really close games. I think we've had three overtime games out of the six that we've won," Tiu noted. "Even those that didn't go through overtime were really down the wire. It's a good practice for us to play in these kinds of situations."
With a 6-1 record, Rain or Shine inched closer to a quarterfinals entry, but Tiu and the rest of team know that they still have a long way to go to reach their goal.
"We just want to take it one step at a time, one game at a time. We don't want to look too far ahead," said Tiu. "Just try to keep getting better every day at practice, use these games as opportunities to mature."