RAIN or Shine pounced on a San Miguel Beer side that didn’t need a win, rolling to a 95-80 victory to clinch a playoff spot in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After wasting their first of three chances to claim an outright playoff berth with a loss to Alaska, the Elasto Painters succeeded on their second try as they put up a good start and leaned on a late breakaway to topple the defending champions.
Stretch big men Beau Belga and Jewel Ponferrada typified the three-point barrage as they led the E-Painters in notching their sixth win in 10 games to book the fifth playoff ticket.
The E-Painters also handed the Beermen only their third loss in 11 games, although SMB retained their hold of the top spot heading into the next round.
“I credit the players especially those who haven’t been playing much,” ROS coach Caloy Garcia said. “At least we beat the team that was complete today. Medyo nag-relax din sila (SMB).”
“We still want to win on Friday for us to be in number Four,” he added ahead of their last game against Ginebra.
The E-Painters actually had a sub-par shooting overall, making just 35.4 percent (35-of-99) from the field – even a bit lower than the Beermen’s shooting percent at 36.5, but ROS was on target from three-point range as they knocked down 17 of their 44 triples.
Ponferrada led the timely shooting from long range, draining five of his seven triples and finishing with 17 points, three boards, and one block, without a turnover in less than 15 minutes off the bench.
Belga buried three treys and finished with a game-high-tying 19 points, along with seven boards, four assists, and four steals in 32 minutes for the E-Painters, who got a boost from the returning Jay Washington to make up for the absence of injured veterans James Yap and Chris Tiu, as well as Raymond Almazan who played less than three minutes after hurting his hand early in the game.
June Mar Fajardo picked up from where he left off after his Gilas Pilipinas stint as he paced the Beermen with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in just 26 minutes in a losing effort.
ROS 95 – Belga 19, Ponferada 17, Borboran 11, Norwood 10, Trollano 8, Daquioag 8, Nambatac 6, Ahanmisi 5, King 3, Washington 3, Almazan 3, Maiquez 2, King 0
SMB 80 – Fajardo 19, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 13, De Ocampo 8, Santos 8, Espinas 6, Ross 5, Vigil 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Lanete 0, Heruela 0, Pessumal 0
Quarterscores: 26-22, 38-38, 60-62, 95-80