RAIN or Shine sank six straight crucial free throws in the final 12.2 seconds to survive the disqualification of import Bruno Sundov and hack out a 96-93 victory over Barangay Ginebra on Sunday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Beau Belga ably filled in for both Sundov and fellow big man JR Quinahan who left the game on fouls one after the other, sinking four free throws, while Paul Lee added two more gift shots in the endgame to secure Rain or Shine's fourth straight win.
The Elasto Painters remained in solo third spot with their 4-1 record, behind idle Alaska (6-0) and Petron (5-1), but didn't stop coach Yeng Guiao from expressing his disappointment over how officiating went in the game following the disqualification of Sundov with 3:09 left and Quinahan early in the final period.
“Sometimes, I don’t understand what’s a foul and what’s not a foul. Our import is probably having the same problems,” said Guiao.
“We had two lucky escapes against Air21 and this game. And again, for the most part, our import was not able to play a lot of minutes just when we needed him to be playing. So it’s just a tribute to the locals for stepping up and working hard to make up for the absence of the import,” said the fiery Rain or Shine mentor.
The Gin Kings (1-5) had every opportunity to win the match, especially after scaling what was once an 11-point deficit to take a 74-72 lead on a thunderous followup dunk by import Vernon Macklin off Kerby Raymundo’s missed attempt.
But Ginebra basically shot itself on the foot after shooting just 27-of-46 from the charity stripe while making at least three turnovers in the endgame - none bigger than a wayward Raymundo pass to Tenorio with the Kings down by only three points.
Belga also stepped up big, taking on the task of defending Macklin while hitting the big free throws down the stretch. The wide-bodied Belga led the Elasto Painters with 18 points, nine board and two blocks, while Jervy Cruz added 13.
Sundov, who only had 11 points and five boards in the team’s Air21 game, finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in just 24 minutes.
Macklin led the Gin Kings with 27 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, while Caguioa and Raymundo had 18 apiece.
Rain or Shine 96 - Belga 18, Cruz 13, Sundov 12, Ibanes 12, Lee 11, Arana 11, Quinahan 7, Norwood 5, Tiu 3, Matias 2, Tang 2, Rodriguez 0
Barangay Ginebra 93 - Macklin 27, Caguioa 18, Raymundo 18, Tenorio 17, Baracael 7, Mamaril 3, Espiritu 2, Hatfield 1, Ellis 0, Taha 0, Labagala 0, Maierhofer 0, Helterbrand 0
Quarterscores: 27-23, 51-43, 70-68, 96-93