RAIN or Shine dominated the game from start to finish as it dealt Barako Bull's quarterfinal hopes a crushing blow with a 106-97 win in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup match on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Playing with greater resolve after a heartbreaking 84-89 overtime loss to Alaska, Rain or Shine easily outplayed an overmatched Barako Bull side behind its relentless running game and game-long hustle.
Import Bruno Sundov was a tower of strength for the Elasto Painters as he poured in a game-high 25 points to completely outplay his clearly out-of-shape counterpart DJ Mbenga.
“We didn’t want to repeat the same mistake we had against Alaska where we had a good lead, then relaxed. We made sure that thing wouldn’t happen again,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
The Elasto Painters improved to 9-4 and can clinch the No. 2 seeding and the twice-to-beat advantage that goes with it with a win over the Meralco Bolts next Wednesday in the final playdate of the elimination round.
“We’re really looking to win one more so we can assure ourselves of the twice-to-beat advantage. Our last game is really important to us,” said the fiery Rain or Shine mentor.
"We don’t want to go through the playoffs. Kasi parang di ka na nag-twice-to-beat kung kailangan mo pa manalo ng dalawang beses. The real advantage is winning 10 games," he added.
The Energy Cola fell to 4-9, their quarterfinal hopes now hanging in the balance after the loss.
Should Air21 beat Petron on Saturday, Barako Bull will be officially out of the quarterfinal picture even it manages to win over Globalport on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mbenga, the seven-foot Congolese-Belgian who came in to replace Evan Brock more than a week ago, finished with just nine points, six rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes.
The former LA Lakers back-up big man played just five minutes in the second half as Barako Bull coach/consultant Rajko Toroman chose to bench him when it became clear he couldn't keep pace with Sundov.
Rain or Shine 106 - Sundov 25, Lee 19, Arana 18, Tiu 12, Cruz 7, Matias 6, Norwood 4, Chan 4, Rodriguez 4, Belga 3, Jaime 2, Quinahan 2, Tang 0
Barako Bull 97 - Seigle 19, Pennisi 17, Urbiztondo 12, Maliksi 10, Mbenga 9, Macapagal 8, Intal 6, Monfort 5, Anthony 5, Kramer 4, Cruz 2, Duncil 0
Quarterscores: 26-14, 48-38, 84-67, 106-97