SAN Miguel Beer proved to be Rain or Shine’s toughest obstacle yet in its title-retention bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as the Beermen overwhelmed the Elasto Painters, 111-98, on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen gained significant separation in the second quarter before cruising to their fifth straight victory.
Charles Rhodes made up for his early foul trouble by leading the Beermen in putting on the finishing touches against the defending champion E-Painters, who absorbed a third setback in seven games.
The E-Painters fell into a hole as deep as 22 points as they failed to go for an encore following their stunning come-from-behind win from 17 points down against Phoenix.
“It wasn’t easy as it seemed this game dahil our big man got into foul trouble early,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “But I hope ma-continue namin itong roll namin.”
Rhodes picked up his third foul halfway through the second period, forcing him to ride the bench and contribute just two points in the middle quarters, before bouncing back in the final frame where he scored 14 of his game-high 26 points as the Beermen maintained a sizeable cushion.
Gabby Espinas again provided the biggest spark off the bench as he led all SMB locals with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and missed a double-double by just two rebounds, on top of four assists, and two steals in 28 minutes.
Five more players scored in double digits in a balanced effort for the Beermen, who shot 52 percent (43-of-82) from the field as a unit.
Shawn Taggart showed the way for the E-Painters with 24 points and 10 boards, but the import committed seven turnovers in 38 minutes.
SMB 111 – Rhodes 26, Espinas 15, Cabagnot 14, Fajardo 14, Santos 13, Lassiter 12, Ross 10, De Ocampo 5, Heruela 2, Garcia 0
ROS 98 – Taggart 24, Ahanmisi 16, Chan 16, Yap 13, Cruz 11, Belga 8, Norwood 5, Ponferada 5, Tolomia 0, Tiu 0, Almazan 0, Washington 0
Quarterscores: 26-23, 57-44, 82-68, 111-98