By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Rain or Shine Elasto Painters halted a two-game skid yesterday, beating the Kia Picanto, 94-86, in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup’s return after a week-long break.
Sporting a new roster look, including that of a new import in J’Nathan Bullock, the E-Painters made it a successful outing in their fourth game in the season-ending PBA tournament by staving off the Picanto.
Rain or Shine found itself in a tight fight early in the contest, exchanging leads and runs.
A late charge though by the E-Painters would see it take the opening canto, 21-17.
The paint masters sustained their hot form to start the second quarter, outscoring the Picanto, 9-4, behind Chris Tiu’s hot shooting to extend their lead to nine points, 30-21, in the first three minutes.
Mr. Bullock would then pad Rain or Shine’s lead to 13 points, 37-24, in the next minute and half.
But Kia fought back as the period progressed to cut their deficit to 44-36 by the halftime break.
In the third canto, the two teams continued to jostle.
The Picanto had their moments but the E-Painters would remain in control, this notwithstanding the ejection of big man Beau Belga midway on a flagrant foul 1 on Kia’s Jason Ballesteros and use of foul language thereafter as he went to the bench that merited a technical foul.
Rain or Shine held a 71-59 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The E-Painters tried to put away the game early in the payoff period, scoring the first five points to extend their lead, 76-59, with 10 minutes left in the contest.
Kia, however, would go on an 11-0 blast in the next three minutes, led by import Markeith Cummings, to come within six points, 76-70, at the 7:17 mark of the quarter.
James Yap and Mr. Bullock would conspire to score the next five points to give their team extended breathing space, 81-70, a minute later.
The Picanto tried to chip away at Rain or Shine’s lead but the closest they could get was five points with 1:57 to go in the game as the E-Painters went on to park the win.
Mr. Bullock led Rain or Shine with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his debut while Mr. Tiu finished with all-around numbers of 13 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
Mr. Belga had 12 points before being ejected.
Kia, for its part, was paced by Mr. Cummings with 30 points to go along with seven boards.
“We played sloppy in the second half but we knew our import can shoot and the rest of the team just kept fighting,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia after the game.
“We are still working on our chemistry with all the new players we have. But they are learning quick,” he added.
Rain or Shine (2-2) returns on Sunday, Aug. 20, against the TNT KaTropa while Kia (0-6) also plays on the same day versus GlobalPort Batang Pier.
After going on a one-week break to give way to Gilas Pilipinas’ bid at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon, the PBA rests anew on Wednesday and returns on Friday.