Rain or Shine thumped defending champion San Miguel Beer 99-84 to stay unbeaten and emerge as solo leader in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Wednesday.
Center Raymond Almazan finished with 15 points plus 10 rebounds and two blocks, Beau Belga added 15 points while gunner Jeff Chan contributed 15 points to lead the Elasto Paintmasters. The Beermen, with two-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo absorbed their first loss after three games.
“We’ve just found a way to play good defense,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guaio. “The guys put on a good effort helping each other out.”
Fajardo finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Beermen. Guard Alex Cabagnot led San Miguel Beer with 16 points. Rookie guard Maverick Ahanmisi and Gabe Norwood finished with 14 points apiece for the Elasto Paintmasters.
In the other game, Carlo Lastimosa’s running shot powered Blackwater’s slim 92-90 win over Meralco. It was the squad’s first victory after three games.
Center JP Erram led the Elite with 14 points plus five rebounds and three blocks while Mike Cortez, Reil Cervantes, Riego Gamalinda and James Sena posted 12 points each for Blackwater.
Lastimosa scored 11 points overall while rookie Keith Agovida contributed nine points.
“So sweet, this is our first win in the Philippine Cup. We were zero last year in our first season in the PBA,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac during the post game interview.
Blackwater, playing with aggression, relied on the towering presence of Erram and forward Gamalinda to establish a comfortable 26-16 lead heading into the second quarter.
Erram, a former Ateneo center, scored six points while Gamalinda added one triple and a basket during Blackwater’s first quarter run.
The Bolts remained struggling in the early part of second period committing three turnovers. They absorbed another major blow when they lost Chris Newsome before halftime because of a flagrant foul penalty two.
Blackwater stretched their lead to as high as 18 points (55-37) after James Sena’s jumper early in third quarter.
After Blackwater closed the third period with a 69-63 lead, Meralco fought back and grabbed the lead 87-84 with only three minutes left in the game.
But a basket from Lastimosa and a trey from Cervantes allowed Blackwater to regain the upper hand 89-87 with only 1:25 remaining in the game. Lastimosa split one of his two free throws with 14 seconds left to stretch the Elite’s lead to 90-87.
Forward Cliff Hodge, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds plus two blocks, scored a game-tying three-pointer with six ticks left bringing the score to 90-all.
Lastimosa scored the winning shot with only a second remaining giving Blackwater its first ever victory in the Philippine Cup since joining the league last year.