RAIN or Shine stretched its mastery over Blackwater and realized its immediate target to boot with a 116-97 victory Friday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the PhilSports Arena.
Import Ryan Pearson notched 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and Rey Nambatac added 21 points in a big bounce-back game as the Elasto Painters improved to a 5-6 record overall that gave them a clear crack at playing off for one of the eight quarterfinals berths.
Currently in a tie for seventh, coach Yeng Guiao's charges could even make it outright if they win over Magnolia at the end of the elimination round next Friday, a scenario which he said is a distinct possibility.
"Mabigat iyung huling kalaban namin, 'yung Magnolia. But gumaganda naman laro ng import namin. He's playing better, he's actually more efficient now, he's rebounding better, mas gamay na niya mga kasama niya," said the wizened tactician.
"May isang linggo kaming mag-prepare para sa Magnolia so gagawin namin makakaya namin para at least maganda ipakita naming laban," added Guiao.
A more balanced offensive did boost Rain or Shine, but its defense also spelled the big difference as the franchise extended its unbeaten run against Blackwater to seven games while dropping it to a sixth straight loss and officially out of the quarterfinals race on a 3-9 slate.
The Bossing were still within 68-70 when the E-Painters harassed the Bossing into committing five turnovers inside the last three minutes of the third quarter that enabled the latter to take an 82-71 lead into the final canto.
Then Rain or Shine's offense kicked into an even higher gear through the last six of its 17 triples that enabled it to stretch the difference to a high of 101-80.
Even Guiao, however, had to admit that Blackwater's manpower problems took its toll on the Bossing.
"Sa inilaro namin ngayon good sign, pero napakahirap ipagpag nu'ng Blackwater. Bandang third quarter nakadikit pa rin sila sa amin. Pero marami lang talaga silang kulang, manipis 'yung rotation nila," said Guiao. "Pero kung kumpleto ito mahirap talunin ang team na ito."
Indeed the Bossing played minus the injured Troy Rosario, Baser Amer, Jayvee Casio, Yousef Taha and Joshua Torralba while Gab Banal was under health and safety protocols.
Cameron Krutwig led everybody with 23 points and 17 rebounds on top of four assists with Jolo Go adding a career-high 18 points off the bench and Trevis Jackson and Rey Suerte chipping in 13 and 12, respectively.
Those productions were simply not enough to match Rain or Shine's output which was highlighted by relievers Norbert Torres and Anton Asistio notching 13 points apiece in bannering the E-Painters' bench outscoring their Bossing counterparts, 56-42. (NC)
Rain or Shine 116 - Pearson 22, Nambatac 21, Asistio 13, Torres 13, Demusis 9, Ildefonso 7, Belga 7, Mamuyac 7, Caracut 7, Ponferrada 3, Santillan 3, Clarito 2, Guinto 2, Norwood 0, Borboran 0.
Blackwater 97 - Krutwig 23, Go 18, Jackson 13, Suerte 12, Ayonayon 10, Ular 7, Melton 6, Ebona 3, , Sena 2, Dyke 1, McCarthy 0.
Quarters: 24-20, 51-45, 82-71, 116-97