Rain or Shine blasted Meralco, 85-72, Saturday afternoon in a battle of erstwhile undefeated teams in the early stages of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Elasto Painters took the solo lead and rose to a 3-0 record, while Bolts now occupy third with a 2-1 slate. Magnolia, which is also undefeated at 2-0, sank to second after the tie-breaking contest.
"Honestly, our expectations were just like any other team -- extremely high. It all boiled down to preparation, and the commitment of the players saw preparation," said Rain or Shine shot-caller Chris Gavina.
"So that coincides with who we are and what our identity is. We want to be the hardest working team in the PBA," added Gavina, who also quoted a legendary coach. "The great Bobby Knight said that the most prepared teams are the hardest-working teams."
After Meralco opened the game with a 9-1 run, momentum shifted at the start of the second quarter when Rain or Shine went ahead, 26-20, after a layup by Belga with 7:46 remaining in the half.
Meralco cut the lead to one, 31-30, at the 3:01 mark of the second, but the Elasto Painters outscored them 11-5 to take a 42-35 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Rain or Shine led by as many as 15 points and took a 68-55 lead into the payoff period.
Rain or Shine's lead ballooned to as many as 21 in the late stages of the fourth. Every Meralco comeback bid was stifled, which effectively shut the door for the Bolts.
Javee Mocon led the way for Rain or Shine with his 18-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort, while Beau Belga added 17 markers and 10 boards. On the other hand, Chris Newsome paced Meralco's offense with 13.
"[The key to the 3-0 start] is all of us buying into the chemistry of Coach Chris," said Belga in Filipino. "Every game day we want to defend, then when it comes to offense, we tell ourselves to execute the plays until we get an open basket," continued the jumpshooting big man.
RAIN OR SHINE (85) -- Mocon 18, Belga 17, Torres 11, Nambatac 11, Wong 8, Borboran 7, Caracut 6, Norwood 5, Ponferada 2, Guinto 0, Tolentino 0, Santillan 0.
MERALCO (72) -- Newsome 13, Almazan 10, Hodge 9, Hugnatan 9, Pinto 8, Quinto 7, Belo 4, Black 4, Maliksi 3, Canete 2, Jose 2, Jackson 1, Caram 0, Pasaol 0.
Quarter Scores: 13-18, 42-35, 68-55, 85-72.
- Rain or Shine's suffocating defense forced 21 turnovers, which led to 23 additional points for them.
- For the third time in as many games this season, Rain or Shine held their opponents to under 40% shooting.
Meralco vs Phoenix on Wednesday, July 28 at 6 p.m. at Ynares Pasig
Rain or Shine vs Alaska on Wednesday, July 28 at 3 p.m. at Ynares Pasig