MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE) Bruno Sundov played limited minutes due to fouls but Rain or Shine proved steadier in a tight, scrambling finish, nipping Air21, 99-97, to boost its stock in the upper half of the chart in the PBA Commissioner's Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ryan Araña sank a big trey, JR Quiñahan knocked in an equally important charity and the Elasto Painters pulled a key stop in the dying seconds to get away with their third win in four starts in the mid-season tourney.
"We got really lucky in this game. Our import was in foul-trouble most of the second half, played little minutes and fouled out. We're really having a problem matching up with their import especially at low post, and at the same time their shooters hit their shots," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
"It was a complicated situation for us. We're fortunate they committed a turnover, making a bad pass in the last play," Guiao added. "Had it gone to overtime, it's difficult for us to win this game."
Holding a shaky 99-97 lead, the Elasto Painters needed defensive gems to complete the win and send the Express reeling to their third loss against a lone win.
The E-Painters choked Michael Dunigan in Air21’s final play, forcing Mike Cortez to an errant in-bound pass.
Cortez' overhead throw-in from the baseline went long, and Jireh Ibanes beat everybody for the loose ball as time expired.
Earlier, Wynne Arboleda missed a wide-open three-point attempt from the right quartercourt that would have given Air21 the lead.
Limited to playing only 27 minutes, Sundov finished the night with just 17 points and five rebounds.
The 7-foot-3 import picked up a fourth foul early in the second half, his fifth with six minutes to go and his sixth with 1:15 left to play.
"We just kept fighting back even with our import not helping us that much. It's a big lesson for our import. He has to play smarter," said Guiao.
Barangay Ginebra finally ended its chase for an elusive first win in the conference with a 93-72 whipping of Barako Bull in the nightcap.
Mark Caguioa topscored with 23 points while Vernon Macklin came through with 21 points and 14 rebounds as the Kings nailed their win under coach Alfrancis Chua and the club’s first since Game Two of their Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals showdown with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
"You really can't take any team in this league for granted. Air21 is strong and dangerous. We almost paid for our mistakes, especially our import getting into foul trouble," Guiao added.
To make matters worse for RoS, Jervy Cruz twisted his right ankle and was helped to the bench in the second quarter.
Paul Lee, Araña, Quiñahan, Gabe Norwood, Larry Rodriguez and Ronnie Matias helped the E-Painters through in the tight game marked by 12 deadlocks and 11 lead changes.
Lee and Arana led the RoS local scorers, making 15 and 11 points, respectively. They combined for five triples.
Dunigan led the losing team with 22 markers, 10 boards and five assists in 42 minutes of action.