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PBA: Kings maul Painters

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Meralco
5:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs Star

DUBAI – Call it a gambit which the Kings declined.

Rain or Shine took a huge gamble – exhaustion, injuries, a disastrous 0-4 start – in agreeing to play back-to-back games within a period of 48 hours and paid the price as fully-charged Barangay Ginebra San Miguel started and finished strong to come away with a 93-81 victory Friday in their PBA Governors’ Cup showdown at the packed Al Shabab Club here.

Visibly drained from their thrice-halted, scuffle-marred 119-112 triumph over the Globalport Batang Pier which snapped a 2-game losing start the night before, the Elasto Painters got buried early by a scoring machine named Mark Caguioa, put up a gallant stand in the third quarter behind import Wendell McKines, but eventually surrendered the fight in the final period from fatigue and a hail of offense by the comebacking Japeth Aguilar.

Inside the somber ROS dugout, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao refused to use the taxing challenge as an excuse for the loss, but they did suffer the consequences of trying to produce two consecutive sterling games in the name of the PBA’s commitment to its overseas fan base.

“We lost because we lost,” Guiao said. “It’s not because we played two straight games or we’re tired; we don’t want to pose that as an excuse. We just played badly; our intensity was not there. We allowed [LA] Tenorio, [Mark] Caguioa and their import (Orlando Johnson) to get into their rhythm. We were not committed to stopping them.”

Johnson was 6-of-22 from the field, with 7 missed triples, but he kept firing and finished with 25 points. Caguioa scorched the E-Painters for 16 of his total 21 in the first quarter, while Tenorio, in his best shooting from this conference so far, went 4 of 6 from beyond the arc on the way to 20 points.

Caguioa was scoreless in the fourth quarter and Johnson just had 4, but they had set the table for Aguilar and Tenorio to enjoy the rest of the feast.

An outrageous anomaly in ROS’ game had caught Guiao’s attention: 5 total assists to Barangay Ginebra’s 21, which in conservative terms could translate to a 32-point advantage for the Kings.

“That’s very unusual; I’ve never seen that in a long time,” said Guiao, whose run-and-gun system and free-flowing offense accounted for 21 to 22 assists per game these past few conferences. “That means we were extraordinarily unmindful of moving the ball around and finding open teammates. And that’s not our mentality; we just were so out of character.”

McKines led ROS, which fell to 1-3 and a 3-way tie for 10th to 12th place with the Blackwater Elite and NLEX Road Warriors, with 35 points and 14 rebounds, an unstoppable force in the first 9 minutes of the second half with 16 as the E-Painters razed a 7-point Ginebra lead at halftime that was a 20-point advantage at one point, 39-19.

But as relentless as he was, scoring 10 straight points in the run where ROS grabbed the lead, 59-56, the brawny McKines ran into an immovable object in Dorian Pena, who held him without a basket in the last 3 minutes of the third quarter and to 7 points for most of the fourth.

A 6-point run, with Tenorio scoring 4 and Caguioa adding a jumper, wiped out the deficit and the Kings bridged the third and fourth quarters with an 11-2 run to steadily build a 17-point spread in the last 2 minutes.

Nowhere was the out-of-sync offense Guiao took note of been more evident than in the fourth where no other ROS player after Gabe Norwood had more than 5 points in the last 12 minutes.

Paul Lee had 10 points after just 9 against Globalport. But the big guns of ROS in the Batang Pier game were unusually silent. After dropping 24 points Thursday, JR Quinahan’s numbers plunged to a mere point on 0 of 6 shooting while Beau Belga was scoreless after finger-firing for 12 the night before.

After going 7 of 13 from 3-point range against Globalport, Quinahan and Belga turned gun shy and combined for 0 of 7 in treys against Ginebra.

Aguilar, on his first game after a pulled hamstring kept him from Ginebra’s first four games, shook off a wobbly start and had 9 consecutive of his 15 points during the period.

The Kings improved to 2-3 and now share 7th place with the Meralco Bolts.

“The guys played with a lot of heart and energy,” said Ginebra coach Frankie Lim. “I think Rain or Shine was tired. Di biro maglaro ng back-to-back. On our part, we’re still missing Greg [Slaughter] pero malaking bagay yung nakabalik na si Japeth.”

Unlike in the Globalport game, where PBA commissioner Chito Salud had to step in to calm down Guiao and skirmishes halted the contest thrice, no similar incident marred the ROS-Ginebra Dubai rematch although Johnson, inbounding in front of the E-Painters bench in the first half, appeared to have accidentally bumped Guiao a little for which Johnson immediately apologized.

Johnson threw in beside Guiao a second time minutes later but mindfully steered clear of the ROS mentor once the ball was safely in play.

GINEBRA 93 – Johnson 25, Caguioa 21, Tenorio 20, Aguilar 15, Marcelo 5, Baracael 5, Brondial 2, Urbiztondo 0, Mercado 0, Pena 0, Tungalag 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 81 – McKines 35, Lee 10, Cruz Jericho 9, Arana 9, Norwood 5, Cruz Jervy 4, Uyloan 2, Ibanes 2, Tang 2, Almazan 2, Quinahan 1, Belga 0.

Quarters: 28-14, 49-42, 71-65, 93-81