Rugged, bumpy ride ends for Kia
San Miguel Beer and sister team Magnolia needed a lot of scrambling to keep their leading 1-2 positions as huge reversal of forms marked the fourth week of action in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Kia Picanto, the league’s favorite whipping squad since their entry during the 2014-2015 season, avoided matching the second worst slump of 0-17 by Barangay Ginebra in 1995 by downing the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94, Saturday to improve to 1-4 as tournament tailender.
The now defunct Great Taste Coffee owns the PBA record of futility of 18 consecutive setbacks in 1989.
It was the first win in three games for coach Ricky Dandan since taking over at the start of the new year from Chris Gavina, and the breakthrough victory was all the more memorable with the Picanto starting the game minus four injured regulars and then losing top scorer Eric Camson who was thrown out with Gilas mainstay Raymond Almazan after both swapped elbows and punches in the second quarter.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan actually did ROS more good while cheering for his teammates from the bench against Phoenix Petroleum on Wednesday.
Suspended for missing practice after getting bawled for a poor game against GlobalPort, Almazan was treated to an overpowering display of speed and firepower by the Elasto Painters who ripped the Fuel Masters, 120-99, without him.
After rolling back the Elasto Painters, the Batang Pier also created quite a stir by blasting a Blackwater Elite squad that had earlier upset the Ginebra Gin Kings and were playing their second game in three days.
As expected, the NLEX Road Warriors failed to sustain their 2-0 start, going 0-3 in a streak that started with a narrow loss to the Fuel Masters.
The Beermen picked up their fourth straight win against the Road Warriors, who were a threat until Arwind Santos keyed an explosive SMB finish in a 109-98 victory.
Magnolia turned to veteran Rafi Reavis also in the clutch to repulse Phoenix, 97-91, and nail a third victory since dropping its Christmas Day showdown with Ginebra.
With two teams trailing SMB and Magnolia with three wins each while six others have two victories apiece, the chase for the top two slots among the eight qualifiers after the single-round eliminations remains wide open. A twice-to-beat bonus awaits the two best qualifiers when they tangle with the last two teams among the eight quarterfinalists. It will be the No. 3 qualifier against No. 6 and No. 4 against No. 5 in best-of-three duels for the two other semifinal berths.
TNT KaTropa and Alaska share third so far at 3-2, followed by Ginebra and GlobalPort at 2-2. Tied at 2-3 are Phoenix, Blackwater, NLEX and Rain or Shine.
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