Photo from PBA Images
MANILA, Philippines – The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters won their fifth straight game by holding off the pesky KIA Carnival, 94-90, on Wednesday, June 17, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Led by the 24 points and 20 rebounds of import Wendell McKinnes and a 20-point, 4-rebound performance form Paul Lee, Rain or Shine came up with enough stops down the stretch and converted enough free throws to improve their record to 6-4, which is currently the fourth best in the PBA Governors’ Cup team standings.
KIA, now losers of two straight, fell to 4-5, putting them at the eighth seed.
“We expected a hard game and that’s exactly what it was. That was a hard game,” said Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, whose team has won 6 of their last 7 games.
“It’s a team that’s really improving,” he said of the Carnival, who was led by import Hamady N’Diaye’s 31 points, 21 rebounds, and 8 blocks, “and they will give a lot of teams some big problems as they’ve done all conference long.”
Since they already own the tiebreaker over the GlobalPort Batang Pier (6-4), a victory for Rain or Shine (6-4) on Sunday, June 21, over the Meralco Bolts (5-4) would essentially assure them of a top-4 seed in the conference quarterfinals, which awards them a twice-to-beat advantage over their opponent.
“For us it’s a chance to make the top 4. We have a game on Sunday - the Meralco game - if we win that, we have a good chance of winning the top 4,” said Guiao.
“That’s our objective now - give ourselves a twice-to-beat advantage.”
The start of the second half saw the Elasto Painters go on an 11-3 run to take an 11-point lead over KIA, whom they beat by an average margin of 24.5 points in their past two meetings. But KIA, relentless throughout the contest, bounced back with a run of their own, trimming the lead to 68-66 entering the final period.
The contest went down the wire with the Elasto Painters holding on to an 88-84 lead with 2:04 remaining after a pair of Lee free throws. KIA had opportunities to trim into that deficit but a missed 3-pointer by Karl Dehesa and mid-range jumper by N’Diaye let Rain or Shine maintain the same lead until 30 seconds remained in the game.
After the Carnival garnered a stop thanks to some solid defense by their import, N’Diaye was fouled and hit two free throws. A foul by Dehesa then sent Lee to the line where he extended the Rain or Shine lead back up to 4.
Over the next possessions, N’Diaye was able to score two straight baskets in the paint, but KIA couldn’t trim the Elasto Painters’ lead as Lee made his next 4 free throw as well. With 4 seconds remaining, Hyram Bagatsing missed on a triple that sealed his team’s defeat.
Dehesa had 19 points and 5 boards for the Carnival, who shot just 36% from the field including 22% from downtown. Rain or Shine, who made only 38% of their attempts, didn’t perform any better but received ample support from their bench, which outscored KIA’s, 59-24.
The Carnival will aim to end their losing streak when they face the struggling Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters on Friday, June 19.
RAIN OR SHINE (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.
Quarter Scores: 12-15, 43-40, 68-66, 94-90