MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine weathered a late charge from KIA Picanto to claim a 94-86 victory, their second win in the 2017 PBA Governors' Cup, on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters snapped a two-game skid to improve to 2-2 in the conference, while the Picanto dropped to 0-6 so far in the Governors' Cup.
Rain or Shine's new import, J'Nathan Bullock, made a good impression in his debut as he tallied 20 points on top of 10 rebounds, although he did commit seven of their 14 turnovers in the game.
Chris Tiu came off the bench to tally 13 points and dish out eight assists.
"We played sloppily in the second half," ROS coach Caloy Garcia said after the game. "It's just basically the chemistry with the import… Chris played a really good game. I think he dictated the tempo of our offense."
It was a close game early in the first quarter, as KIA erased a 2-8 deficit with a 9-0 run that pushed them ahead. The entry of Tiu and Beau Belga off the bench changed the complexion of the game, however, with Tiu pushing the pace and Belga draining shots from the perimeter.
The two veterans also conspired to assist on easy baskets to Dexter Maiquez, who responded with back-to-back makes for a 21-17 ROS lead at the end of the first period.
The Elasto Painters broke the game open in the second period as Bullock started to impose his will, assisting on a lay-up to fellow newcomer Mark Borboran then draining a three-pointer off a Tiu assist.
Rain or Shine led by as much as 17 points, 49-36, early in the third quarter after a Belga lay-up and a triple from Tiu. They remained comfortably ahead entering the fourth frame, 71-59, but that was when KIA import Markeith Cummings started to take over.
Cummings spearheaded an 11-0 run that made it a six-point game, 70-76, with still 7:15 left, but ROS responded with a triple from James Yap and another inside bucket from Bullock to restore a double-digit spread, 81-70.
The Picanto last threated with 1:57 to go, when Cummings drained a tough jumper over Bullock to make it a five-point game, 82-87. Unfortunately for KIA, Glenn Khobuntin was called for a foul just as Cummings made the bucket, and Tiu's two free throws negated the import's efforts.
A baseline jumper by Bullock essentially sealed the deal for Rain or Shine as they moved up, 91-82, with just 1:16 to go.
"Guys have to step up, and today I just felt that I had to be a little bit more aggressive offensively," said Tiu, who was named Player of the Game. "I'm glad to have helped the team."
It was Rain or Shine's first game since trading Jeff Chan to Phoenix and Mike Tolomia to Meralco, in return getting Borboran and Ed Daquioag. Given that it was the first game of their new import, it was clear that the Elasto Painters were still going through an adjustment period.
"We have to get familiar with each other as soon as possible," said Tiu. "This is a good break-in game for us, and we hope we can get better."
Belga finished with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Rain or Shine before getting called for a flagrant foul in the third period.
Cummings led KIA with 30 points, while Reden Celda added 15 markers. But the Picanto was undone by its 21 turnovers, which led to 22 points for Rain or Shine.
RAIN OR SHINE 94 - Bullock 20, Tiu 13, Belga 12, Daquioag 8, Ponferada 7, Trollano 6, Maiquez 6, Yap 5, Borboran 5, King 5, Cruz 4, Ahanmisi 3.
KIA 86 - Cummings 30, Celda 15, Revilla 11, Corpuz 10, Deutchman 10, Nimes 3, Khobuntin 3, Yee 2, Ballesteros 2, Paniamogan 0, Galanza 0, Caperal 0, Jaime 0.
Quarter scores: 21-17, 44-36, 71-59, 94-86.
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