RAIN or Shine proved its off-court issues hardly affected its performance on the court as it frustrated Meralco, 90-84, to get a win run going in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite reports on trade demands by three key players surrounding the team, the Elasto Painters jumped to a solid start and went on a late surge to add to the misery of the Bolts and register their first back-to-back wins this conference.
Chris Tiu scored six of the last eight ROS points to cap an 18-point performance while Ed Daquioag haunted his former team as the E-Painters handed the Bolts their fifth loss in six games that dropped their victims to 2-5.
“We all know of the issue, but sabi ko nga sa mga players, that we have to be professional about it and still put in the effort,” ROS coach Caloy Garcia said. “At the end of the day, I’m happy they came out and played hard today.”
Indeed, the E-Painters picked up from where they left off after their 97-86 win over NLEX as they nurtured a sizeable lead in the first half behind Daquioag, the Bolts’ pick in the virtual first round of the 2016 Draft, who scored all his 16 points in the first two quarters.
ROS, however, allowed the Bolts to stay within striking distance in a game that saw 18 lead changes and six deadlocks, the last at 79-all, before the E-Painters scored seven unanswered points, capped by a free throw from Tiu to give them enough cushion to ward off the Bolts’ last wave of attack.
Beau Belga, one of the three players who reportedly wanted out of the team, showed that he would give his all for ROS, pouring in 13 points, 13 boards, three assists, and one steal in 32 minutes as a starter.
Raymond Almazan and Jericho Cruz, the other two players involved in the controversy, put up so-so showings with Almazan contributing six points and seven boards in 21 minutes, and the latter chipping in just two points after missing all his five shots in 17 minutes.
Nino Canaleta led the Bolts with 24 points, eight boards, and three assists, against five turnovers in 37 minutes that went for naught.
ROS 90 — Tiu 18, Daquioag 16, Belga 13, Yap 13, Ahanmisi 9, Almazan 6, Ponferrada 6, Borboran 4, Norwood 3, Cruz 2, Nambatac 2, King 0
MERALCO 84 — Canaleta 24, Hugnatan 13, Amer 8, Lanete 8, Dillinger 7, Newsome 5, Baracael 4, Caram 4, Faundo 4, Hodge 4, Tolomia 3, Ballesteros 0, Salva 0
Quarterscores: 26-21, 45-39, 65-66, 90-84