Tough grind ahead
Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia lauded his Elasto Painters for going into the annual PBA All-Star break on top of the Commissioner’s Cup heap.
But instead of looking at the long break to marvel at how they have overachieved so far, Garcia will use the time to rest his players, review the things they’re doing right, identify what they have done wrong and prepare for a stern test on June 2.
Rain or Shine returned to the solo lead on Sunday night after a physical 96-90 decision of GlobalPort at Smart Araneta Coliseum where the endgame took a long time to finish after skirmishes halted play three times and Chris Tiu returned with a swollen kisser to play hero.
In the nightcap, Phoenix Petroleum labored through two extra periods before edging Barangay Ginebra, 103-98, to tie idle Meralco for fifth and sixth spots at 3-2.
Ginebra fell to 1-3.
“It’s good that we’re No. 1,” Garcia said after Rain or Shine rose to 4-1 after getting the biggest buckets in the endgame from Tiu. “But there’s still a long way to go. We’re just halfway through [the eliminations].
“We have [close to] two weeks to review [our performance in the first half of the eliminations] and basically, prepare for Magnolia. We have 12 days to do that.”
Play was very physical right from the start. With 3:20 left, GlobalPort’s Kelly Nabong and Rain or Shine’s Maverick Ahanmisi almost came to blows.
Both were tossed for fighting fouls and several technical fouls where slapped, giving Garcia the chance to put Tiu back in the game after taking a rest for taking an elbow to the mouth from GlobalPort import Malcolm White.
From 84-79, Tiu gave the Painters a breather after converting a technical free throw and a triple that broke the Batang Pier’s backs and doomed GlobalPort to their third loss in six games.
Things almost got out of hand again in the last 40 seconds when Raymond Almazan planted an elbow to White’s face in a rebound play.
Burly Reggie Johnson led the Painters with 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.
James Yap had 14 points, Ahanmisi 13, Almazan 12 and Tiu 10 for the Painters, who won this tournament under Yeng Guiao in the 2015-2016 season with a similarly hulking import in Pierre Henderson-Niles.
White paced the Batang Pier with 21 points.
RAIN OR SHINE 96—Johnson 18, Yap 14, Ahanmisi 13, Almazan 12, Tiu 10, Ponferada 9, Daquioag 7, Belga 6, Norwood 5, Torres 2, Nambatac 0.
GLOBALPORT 90—White 21, Pringle 15, Anthony 14, Nabong 13, Tautuaa 8, Elorde 8, Grey 4, Javelona 3, Sargent 2, Guinto 2, Araña 0, Teng 0.
Quarters: 26-30, 45-45, 67-62, 96-90
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