MANILA, Philippines - The Rain or Shine gunners found their range in the crunch, sparking the team’s strong closing run that carried them to a 91-82 win over the Meralco Bolts in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup road game at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum in Puerto Princesa last night.
Ronnie Matias, Paul Lee and Beau Belga rifled in a triple each in a key 17-to-nothing assault the Elasto Painters made at the finish as they withstood the Bolts’ up-tempo game to notch their first win in the mid-season tourney.
Bruno Sundov churned out huge double-double numbers with 20 points and 19 rebounds helping the E-Painters bounce back from their losing debut against the Barako Bull Energy Cola.
Rain or Shine’s massive endgame tear sent Meralco to a second straight loss after winning its initial game in the tourney versus Talk n Text.
The Bolts were ahead 79-74 before the E-Painters unleashed their big run at the finish of the kickoff leg of the PBA Phoenix Fuel road series.
Rain or Shine pulled even at 79-all on two free throws by Lee and surged ahead, 85-79, on back-to-back treys by Lee and Belga.
The Bolts failed to recover from that shock, going scoreless for a stretch of over five minutes. The E-Painters, minus the injury-stricken Jeff Chan, had pulled away, 91-79, before the Bolts broke their silence on a basket by Rey Guevarra in the closing seconds.
Meanwhile, with import replacement Vernon Macklin in transit, Barangay Ginebra plays Herbert Hill for one last time versus Petron Blaze tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra and Petron clash at 6:30 p.m. succeeding the 4:15 p.m. tiff between joint leaders Alaska Milk and Barako Bull.
The 52nd pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2011 NBA Draft, Macklin is flying in Monday, recruited from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D-League.
Defending champion San Mig Coffee has also dismissed original import Matt Rogers for reigning Best Import awardee Denzel Bowles.