THE mere presence of injured import Denzel Bowles on the Rain or Shine bench was more than enough to fire up the Elasto Painters against the Magnolia Hotshots Wednesday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
With Bowles cheering on the sideline, the Elasto Painters did their thing on the court and dealt the Hotshots a sorry 86-82 loss at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and boosted their own bid of clinching a berth in the quarterfinals.
Big man Beau Belga led the Rain or Shine charge with 22 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three-point range while adding five rebounds in the win that put the team back at the .500 mark.
The Elasto Painters are now tied with the Hotshots for fifth to sixth placed with an even 5-5 record.
Belga said Bowles’ effort to show up at the Big Dome despite suffering a medial meniscus tear and a small medial collateral ligament tear in his right knee sustained in a game against Alaska last week motivated the Elasto Painters to go out hard for the win.
“Yung presence ng import ninyong nagbuwis buhay, na-injured, nandiyan, sumusuporta sa inyo, yun na yung extra motivation for you to play better,” said Belga, whose total output was just a point short of equaling his career-high of 23 points made during the 2016 Philippine Cup.
“Na-challenge kaming lahat.”
Apart from Belga, also stepping up for Rain or Shine was rookie Javee Mocon, who scored all of his seven points during the fourth quarter that sparked a telling 11-0 blast midway in the fourth quarter that gave the team the lead for good by peeling off a tight 69-all county.
New import Carl Montgomery came up with big numbers of 20 points and 12 rebounds despite being tapped on short notice as a late replacement for the 30-year-old Bowles, while Ed Daquioag added 14, and had five rebounds and four assists in the team’s second straight win.
“It’s a crucial game for us,” he said. “Lagi kong sinasabi na pagdating ng playoffs dito nilalabas kung ano yung dapat ilalaro. Pa-playoffs na wala ng dapat itago. Buhos na lahat.”