RAIN or Shine whipped up a strong third-quarter storm before holding off GlobalPort’s late-game rally to score a 98-87 payback win against the slumping Batang Pier in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The E-Painters took advantage of the absence of Globalport’s veteran playmaker Sol Mercado, who is out due to a right Achilles injury, as they avenged an 88-90 loss to the Batang Pier in their first meeting of the season on December 8.
Without the stabilizing presence of Mercado, the Batang Pier were simply no match for the E-Painters who stepped up their running game behind rookie Alex Nuyles, who scored a career-high 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals to earn Best Player of the Game honors.
“It’s really a win we wanted badly because we lost to this team the first time we played them,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
Guiao said he was surprised to learn before the start of the game that the 6’1” Mercado won’t be able to play due to an injury.
“It could have been a more satisfying win if Sol Mercado was playing. We prepared our game plan defending against Sol Mercado because he really created problems for us the first time we played them,” he added.
Rain or Shine moved up to 8-3 (win-loss) for the solo third spot after racking up its fourth straight victory, enhancing its bid for one of two twice-to-beat spots in the playoffs.
On the other hand, the Batang Pier dropped their fourth straight loss to fall into a four-way tie at 4-7 with Alaska, Barako Bull and Meralco in the lower half of the standings.
Jay Washington led the Batang Pier with 26 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks, while rookies Nico Salva and Terrence Romeo chipped in 11 and 10, respectively.
Justin Chua, another rookie out of Ateneo, gave a good account of himself while battling Rain or Shine’s bruising frontline. He finished with five points, nine rebounds and four blocks, which all came in the second half.