Defending champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska are not going anywhere just yet.
Rain or Shine stretched its winning streak to three by turning back Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 94-86, last night and forced another three-way tie for leadership in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
At 6-1, the inside track for twice-to-beat slots to the semifinals has become crowded once more with the Beermen, Aces and Elasto Painters keeping each other company on top in the closing stretch of the eliminations where the top two teams get byes to the Final Four.
Jeff Chan poured 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter where ROS weathered a fierce Ginebra comeback from 15 points to 82-75 with three minutes remaining. Jericho Cruz added 16, including a slashing drive against Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar with 1:10 remaining to make it a nine-point game, and rookie Maverick Ahanmisi added 13 points.
Cruz and Ahanmisi each had eight points in the third quarter before ROS opened a 71-56 spread early in the fourth.
Rain or Shine dominated the bench scoring, 46-28, mainly because of Cruz, Gabe Norwood (8 points), Jewel Ponferada (7) and rookie Don Trollano (7), and the E-Painters ran Ginebra’s transition defense to the ground, 24-11, in fast breaks.
“Size is their biggest advantage while quickness is ours,” said ROS coach Yeng Guiao. “We had to run because we couldn’t settle for a half court game. We pushed the pace and see what happens. Fortunately we made our shots while making life difficult for Greg Slaughter.”
ROS shot 50 percent from the floor, going 9 of 29 from 3-point range.
The Kings’ 7-foot center had 19 points behind Japeth Aguilar’s 22, but was less than a dominant factor in the second half where the E-Painters’ unrelenting fast break game erased him from the equation in a number of instances.
Meanwhile, given his collegiate history, it was only a matter of time that the post-game interview with Globalport coach Pido Jarencio shifted from the PBA to the UAAP.
Globalport checked a two-game losing slide by turning back Blackwater in a high-scoring game, 120-105, moving into a share of fifth.
GLOBALPORT 120 – Romeo 26, Pringle 17, Kramer 15, Yeo 14, Maierhofer 13, Washington 8, Jensen 6, Mamaril 6, Semerad 5, Sumang 5, Paniamogan 3, Taha 2, Pena 0, Uyloan 0.
BLACKWATER 105 – Lastimosa 31, Reyes 16, Cervantes 11, Canada 10, Erram 9, Gamalinda 9, Dela Cruz 7, Cortez 6, Sena 4, Melano 2, Agovida 0, Ballesteros 0, Golla 0, Vosotros 0.
Quarters: 36-27, 64-59, 94-85, 120-105
RAIN OR SHINE 94 – Chan 19, Cruz 16, Ahanmisi 13, Belga 9, Norwood 8, Ponferada 7, Trollano 7, Ibanes 5, Quinahan 5, Tiu 3, Almazan 2, Matias 0, Nimes 0, Teng 0.
GINEBRA 86 – Aguilar 22, Slaughter 19, Caguioa 11, Mercado 8, Thompson 7, Tenorio 6, Helterbrand 5, Cruz 4, Marcelo 4, Devance 0, Ellis 0, Mariano 0, Salva 0.
Quarters: 21-18, 39-39, 68-56, 94-86