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Tigers stall RoS’ march to semis

JAMES Penny just wouldn’t allow Rain or Shine to get a crack at a playoff for the second outright semifinals berth of the Motolite-PBA Fiesta Cup.

Not at the expense of his scrappy Coca-Cola teammates.

The hard working import completed an improbable four-point play late in regulation, and then capped his big night by hitting a dagger trey in overtime play of a thrilling 94-91 Coca-Cola win over Rain or Shine Friday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Penny led the Tigers’ cause with 30 points, the last three of which came from downtown with 1:42 left in the extra period that put his team in front for good, 93-91.

Also coming through on the defensive end, the Coke import also had 13 rebounds and six block shots as the Tigers improved to 5-7 overall by winning four of their last six games.

“Coach K (Kenneth Duremdes) came to me before the game and told me `I want blocks out there tonight’. I took that as a challenge,” said the soft-spoken Penny.

It was a heartbreaker of a loss for Rain or Shine (8-6) as it blew its perfect chance of gaining at least a playoff for the remaining outright semifinals berth.

The Elasto Painters ended their campaign in the eliminations still in solo second with an 8-6 card, but their fate of advancing into a first ever Final Four appearance now hinges on the outcome of Barangay Ginebra’s last two outings against Alaska and Coca-Cola.

The Kings are in solo third with a 7-5 record but are in a good position to advance outright into the semis should they sweep their remaining two games.

Coca-Cola is no longer in the running to make the semis automatically, but is now pulling ahead of the bottom two in the standings currently occupied by Alaska (4-8) and Red Bull (2-12) with the wild card phase just around the corner.

Penny has a lot to do with that.

Just when the Tigers were on the verge of a major collapse after losing a nine-point fourth quarter lead to trail, 81-83, with five seconds left, Penny came to their rescue, burying an incredible three-pointer at the right side and was fouled while making the shot.

He calmly sank the bonus free throw to complete the rare four-point play and give Coke an 85-83 lead.
Regulation ended at 85-all after Solomon Mercado sank two crucial free throws with 1.3 seconds left.
Mark Macapagal missed his shot badly in Coca-Cola’s final play.

Jai Lewis had another monster game for the Elasto Painters with 30 points and 22 rebounds, while sparking the team’s big comeback from nine points down in the fourth quarter together with Mercado.

His split from the foul line with 1:42 left in the extra period gave Rain or Shine its last taste of the lead, 91-90.
Mercado added 23 markers, but missed on two potential game-tying treys in dying seconds of overtime play and the Elasto Painters trailing, 91-94.
The scores

Coke (94) -- Penny 30, Belasco 17, Macapagal 13, Taulava 10, Telan 10, Buenafe 8, Cabagnot 4, Singson 2, Calimag 0, Dimaunahan 0.

Rain or Shine (91) -- Lewis 30, Mercado 23, Isip 10, Reyes 13, Laure 6, Norwood 5, Tang 2, Salangsang 2, Arana 0, Dulay 0, Ibanes 0, Wainwright 0.

Quarterscores: 22-23, 41-40, 69-64, 85-85 (regulation), 94-91.
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