Rain or Shine almost fell prey to Kia’s upset bid before escaping with a 94-90 victory last night to become the latest team to earn a playoff berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Elasto Painters Coach Yeng Guiao had warned his players not to treat the Carnival lightly after the defense-oriented squad became a serious playoff contender this conference.
True enough, ROS was threatened for most of the contest, particularly in the third quarter when it squandered a 13-point third quarter lead.
But the Painters displayed the form that made one of the league’s most consistent teams in the fourth quarter, staving off the Carnival’s final push to notch their fifth consecutive victory after a 1-4 start.
Import Wendell McKines had 24 points and 20 rebounds as Rain or Shine climbed to a tie for fourth place with Globalport at 6-4.
Paul Lee came off the bench to score 20 points, including the team’s last eight from the free throw line, despite once again losing a front tooth during a collision with Kia’s JR Buensuceso early in the fourth. Lee had lost a tooth during the Commissioner’s Cup finals against Talk ‘N Text.
The Painters need to beat the Meralco Bolts on Sunday at the Big Dome to boost its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
ROS won despite Kia’s stiff challenge that saw the Carnival’s Hamady N’Diaye rejecting eight shot attempts.
N’Diaye had 31 points and 21 rebounds but Kia dropped its second straight outing and is now tied for seventh to eighth places with defending champion Star at 4-5.
“We expected a hard game and that exactly what it was,” said Guiao. “(N’Diaye was) changing our shots, getting us off our rhythm.”
The Painters appeared to have pulled away from the Carnival when Jireh Ibanes’ three made it 59-46 with 5:41 left in the third.
But Kia immediately went on a run and took a 66-63 lead on N’Diaye’s jumper.
Rain or Shine responded with a McKines jumper before Gabe Norwood hit a buzzer-beating triple off a good ball movement to end the third with a 68-66 edge.
Two McKines’ free throws gave ROS the lead at 85-79 but Kia got to within 85-84 on Buensuceso’s own foul shots with 3:07 remaining.
RAIN OR SHINE 94 – McKines 24, Lee 20, Uyloan 8, Cruz 8, Ibanes 7, Belga 7, Almazan 6, Quinahan 5, Norwood 3, Tiu 3, Cruz Jervy 2, Chan 1, Teng 0, Tang 0.
KIA 90 – N’Diaye 31, Dehesa 19, Buensuceso 7, Nuyles 6, Chang 6, Yee 6, Bagatsing 6, Revilla 4, Avenido 3, Alvarez 2, Webb 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 12-15; 43-40; 68-66; 94-90.