RAIN or Shine banked on a blistering start and an even better finish to outclass KIA, 119-99, on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum and clinch the top seeding heading into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
The Elasto Painters scored a league conference-high 71 points in the first half before holding off a late uprising by the Carnival to finish the eliminations with eight wins in 11 games, tied with Purefoods, but with a superior quotient.
ROS import Wayne Chism churned out 28 points and 12 boards while six Filipinos scored at least eight points led by Raymond Almazan, who scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter where they regained a comfortable margin after seeing a huge double-digit lead trimmed to just eight.
The Carnival, who dropped to a 4-7 win-loss card, drew 45 points and 21 boards from import PJ Ramos, but found little help from the rest of the squad.
“We had problems all night long with size and strength of PJ Ramos, but we were able to limit the contributions of their locals,” said Painters coach Yeng Guiao after the team gained a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.
“We’re looking ahead to watching the next few games and see which team we’ll be paired against.”
The Carnival fell into a huge 27-point hole, 71-44, late in the second quarter, but fought their way back in the third where Ramos pumped in 20 of his output as they came to within 12.
Reil Cervantes cut the deficit further to just eight after four straight points, the last two on a tough turnaround jumper that made it 96-88 with only four minutes gone by in the payoff period.
But the Painters pulled away once again thanks to Almazan.
After missing two short, wide-open corner jumpers, the gangling sophomore big man scored eight points in a one-minute span midway through the period that gave the Painters 107-92 lead and sparked another breakaway.
Rain or Shine 119 – Chism 28, Almazan 16, Lee 14, Tiu 13, Arana 13, Norwood 10, Belga 8, Tang 7, Cruz Jericho 4, Chan 4, Quinahan 2, Uyloan 0, Ibanes 0, Teng 0
KIA 99 – Ramos 45, Revilla 15, Dehesa 10, Cervantes 9, Ighalo 8, Cawaling 2, Thiele 2, Alvarez 2, Pascual 2, Yee 2, Avenido 2, Buensuceso 0, Bartolo 0
Quarterscores: 30-26, 71-46, 92-80, 119-99