RAIN or Shine came through when it mattered to repel a pesky Kia, 94-90, and boost its bid for a Top Four spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters got caught in a grind-out battle against the fast-emerging expansion team, but prevailed by showing steely nerves down the stretch to come away with their fifth straight win and sixth overall in 10 games.
Paul Lee typified the Painters’ poise under pressure, scoring his team’s last six points – all from the free throw line – as the unflappable playmaker made all his 10 charities and finished with 20 points that kept the Carnival at bay.
The result spoiled Hamady N’Diaye’s near triple-double of 31 points, 21 rebounds, and eight blocks as Kia dropped a second straight assignment and fell to 4-5.
“We expected a hard game and that’s exactly what it was,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “We had problems with their big man, just changing our shots, blocking our shots, and getting us off our rhythm.”
“But otherwise, it’s really our experience that gave us some edge in the endgame.”
The Painters, coming off a 103-88 rout of Star last Saturday, were poised for another blowout win as they enjoyed a 59-46 lead halfway through the third quarter.
But the Carnival banked on a 20-4 salvo, capped by an N’Diaye stab as Kia suddenly took a three-point lead with 30 seconds left that set the stage for a close battle that saw the match end with six lead changes and four deadlocks.
Wendell Mckines gave up seven inches to the 6-foot-11 N’Diaye, but still stood tall by putting up his own impressive stat line of 24 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, and one block.
Karl Dehesa fired a career-high 19 points for Kia, but was scoreless in the payoff period.
ROS 94 – McKines 24, Lee 20, Uyloan 8, Cruz 8, Ibanes 7, Belga 7, Almazan 6, Quinahan 5, Norwood 3, Tiu 3, Cruz Jervy 2, Chan 1, Teng 0, Tang 0
KIA 90 – N'Diaye 31, Dehesa 19, Buensuceso 7, Nuyles 6, Chang 6, Yee 6, Bagatsing 6, Revilla 4, Avenido 3, Alvarez 2, Webb 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores : 12-15, 43-40, 68-66, 94-90