Rain or Shine weathered a late Magnolia rally to hold on for a crucial 86-82 win in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Elasto Painters improved to 5-5 as they bolstered their bid for better quarterfinals positioning.
Magnolia dropped its third straight to slip to 5-5 and missed out on a chance to clinch a playoff spot.
Magnolia didn't go quietly, as it erased an 80-69 deficit in the fourth quarter. After a four-minute drought where they failed to hit a single field goal, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon drained three straight triples to spark a 9-2 run and make it a four-point game with 2:23 left.
Unfortunately, they failed to capitalize on Rain or Shine's miscues. Jalalon's lay-up that would have cut the game to two with 30 seconds left was blocked by a debuting Carl Montgomery, then James Farr later missed a wild lay-in with 17 seconds to go. Gabe Norwood finally put the game out of reach by sinking two free throws.
"I told the players at halftime that they could have easily been down by 20. We were not playing our game in the first half, we looked confused both sides on offense and on defense. I just challenged them in the second half to be more defensive-minded and let the offense come to them," coach Caloy Garcia said after the game.
Beau Belga scored 22 points and knocked down four threes for the Elasto Painters, who sank 12 threes in the game. Ed Daquioag was also solid off putting up 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
What dictated the second half, though, was debuting import Montgomery's play. Montgomery helped break Rain or Shine out of its first half rut and scored eight in a 10-2 Elasto Painter run that turned a five-point deficit into a 52-49 lead in the third quarter. He finished with all-around numbers of 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
"He did well, especially in the second half. I think in the first half he was a little tight. I explained that it's different here because it's more physical. And everybody on Magnolia's side was collapsing when he caught the ball so luckily for us in the second half he started hitting his three-point shots. They didn't see that in the first half so they let him shoot from the outside and that gave us momentum," Garcia said.
Rain or Shine later watched Magnolia briefly tie the match at 69 in the fourth period before uncorking 11 unanswered points-with rookie Javee Mocon pouring all seven of his points during that four-minute stretch-to take an 80-69 cushion heading into the final minutes.
Ian Sangalang tallied 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists for Magnolia. Import James Farr struggled after a career-outing last game and finished with 19 points and 23 rebounds on 8-for-23 shooting from the field.
Rain or Shine 86 - Belga 22; Montgomery 20, Daquioag 14, Rosales 7, Mocon 7, Norwood 5, Nambatac 5, Ponferada 3, Torres 2, Borboran 1.
Magnolia 82 - Sangalang 24, Farr 19, Barroca 14, Lee 9, Jalalon 7, Dela Rosa 6, Herndon 3, Melton 0, Pingris 0, Brondial 0.
Quarterscores: 15-22, 35-41, 64-61, 86-82.
Denzel Bowles, who injured his knee in Rain or Shine's last game which prompted management to tap Montgomery, was in street clothes on the Elasto Painters' bench. He will not need surgery and will instead undergo therapy, leaving the door open for him to possibly come back later in the conference.
Mark Barroca came an assist shy of a triple-double and ended with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Paul Lee was briefly taken out of the game after twisting his ankle at the nine-minute mark in the third quarter. He later shook it off and played in the fourth to finish with nine points on 3-for-10 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists.
Rain or Shine vs. SMB, July 13 in Cagayan de Oro.
Magnolia vs. TNT July 17 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.