RAIN or Shine finally regained the killer’s instinct that had been missing recently as it blew past Blackwater, 103-80, on Friday night to catch the last bus to the playoffs of the PBA Philippine Cup.
Suffering meltdowns in their last four games that left them in this do-or-die situation, the Elasto Painters responded to the challenge as they broke loose from a tight game in the first quarter before maintaining a sizeable cushion throughout the game to coast to the win.
Jay Washington fired a team-high 15 points to lead six players in twin digits for the E-Painters, who snapped a four-game skid, but face a tough task in the quarterfinals against top seed San Miguel Beer.
“Finally, after five games, nakapasok din kami,” a relieved coach Caloy Garcia said.
“I just told the players after the Alaska game that the effort was there and we just came up short, so we just had to play the same way we played against Alaska to beat Blackwater,” he added.
Playing in their second game in three days, the E-Painters hardly showed fatigue as they turned to their trademark running game to pull away from the Elite, finishing with 24 fast-break points.
The E-Painters led by as many as 25 points and never let the Elite come closer than 13 points in the final frame as they also shone on defense by limiting their opponents to 34-percent shooting from the field.
Art dela Cruz led the Blackwater cause, firing seven of his game-high 20 points in the first period, which ended with the score tied at 16, before the E-Painters broke free. The sophomore forward missed a double-double by just one rebound and added three assists that went for naught.
Frontline partner and rookie sensation Mac Belo, however, was held to just six points after missing all but two of his 12 attempts from the field.
Rain or Shine 103 – Washington 15, Tolomia 14, Cruz 12, Chan 12, Belga 12, Ahanmisi 11, Norwood 7, Ponferada 6, Maiquez 6, Tiu 4, Yap 2, Trollano 2, Robles 0
Blackwater 80 – Dela Cruz 20, Pinto 13, Buenafe 12, Cervantes 9, Sena 8, Belo 6, Miranda 6, Gamalinda 4, Aguilar 2, Pascual 0, Banal 0, Forrester 0
Quarterscores: 16-16, 45-36, 68-56, 103-80