BARAKO Bull overcame an acid test in Rain or Shine, 112-103, to regain the solo lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Energy overhauled an early deficit then stood firm down the stretch in the face of a late Elasto Painters push to quickly get back on the winning track after suffering their first loss of the conference last Wednesday.
Towering import Liam McMorrow sustained his dominant play with 32 points and 25 boards, while RR Garcia provided the biggest spark from the locals with a career-high 26 points for the Energy, who won for the fifth time in six games for their best start in franchise history.
The Energy also withstood the explosion of Painters import Wendell Mckines, who scattered 41 points on top of 17 boards that went for naught as his team lost for the fourth time in five games.
“I’d like to give it to the players,” Energy coach Koy Banal said. “They showed they really have character.”
On the back foot early, trailing, 22-10, in the first quarter, Barako regained its bearings in the second quarter where they outscored the Painters, 34-21, to turn the tables with a four-point halftime lead they never relinquished.
McMorrow, teamming up with Garcia and Joseph Yeo, scored on a stab that put the Energy ahead, 98-84, a cushion halfway through the payoff period that proved enough to weather a late comeback.
The Painters managed to pull to within 109-103 after a short jumper by Chris Tiu with a little less than a minute remaining, but that was the closest they got as the perennial finals contenders reeled to unfamiliar territory in 10th spot in the 12-team standings.
The Energy outrebounded the Painters, 58-45, and prevailed despite forcing their victims to just just seven turnovers, two less than Barako.
“To beat this team, we really had to play the right way,” Banal said.
BARAKO 112 - McMorrow 32, Garcia 26, Yeo 19, Ababou 10, Lastimosa 8, Chua 7, Pascual 6, Lanete 2, Wilson 2, Intal 0, Hubalde 0, Maierhofer 0
ROS 103 - McKines 41, Lee 21, Tiu 7, Uyloan 6, Norwood 6, Almazan 6, Cruz Jericho 5, Arana 3, Ibanes 2, Chan 2, Belga 2, Quinahan 2, Tang 0, Cruz Jervy 0
Quarterscores: 18-27, 52-48, 80-73, 112-103