Rain or Shine spoils Bowles' return

Things are fast going from bad to worse for San Mig Coffee.

With returning import Denzel Bowles hardly making any impact, the Mixers absorbed a deflating 65-93 bashing from the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters Friday night at the MOA Arena that dropped San Mig Coffee further down the cellar.

The 6-foot-10 Bowles, the reigning conference’s Best Import awardee who led the Mixers to an epic seven-game finals victory over Talk ‘N Text last year, struggled throughout against the Elasto Painters’ collapsing defense, coming up with just 12 points on a rough 4-of-12 shooting from the field along with eight big turnovers in a nightmarish 34 minutes of play.

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Former two-time MVP James Yap tallied 11 markers in the first half but could only add another two the rest of the way as San Mig Coffee joined sister team Barangay Ginebra at the league’s tail-end with its third straight loss.

Same thing, however, can’t be said of the methodical Rain or Shine, which re-asserted its mastery over San Mig Coffee using its dreaded up-tempo game and physical play down low notably in the decisive third-quarter charge.

Jervy Cruz tallied a game-high 16 points and six boards while three other teammates added at least 10 markers as the Elasto Painters gained their second consecutive win after dropping their opening game against the pace-setting Alaska Aces (3-0) 81-83 last Feb. 9.

Rookie Chris Tiu tallied 15 points, nine coming in the fourth, while fellow local Larry Rodriguez added 10 for the E-Painters, who turned a tight game into a rout behind a 30-point explosion–mostly off easy lay-ups–in the third while limiting the Mixers to just 14 to forge a commanding 66-45 lead.

Although 7-foot-3 import Bruno Sundov–who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds–cooled his heels on the bench in the entire fourth, Rain or Shine continued to pounce on the demoralized San Mig Coffee, leading by as many as 93-59 off a Tiu split.

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The result already settled with 10.9 ticks left, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao suddenly stormed to the court and lashed out at game officials, claiming his player, Jonathan Uyloan, was fouled twice by SanMig Coffee in an intense play at the paint.

 “I don’t think the score matters. The refs just have to do their jobs. We’re just all trying to do our jobs. Two fouls the refs didn’t call I think they just have to do their jobs. The league needs to focus on that,” he noted.

Surprisingly, the Mixers even led 24-17 early in the second off a Leo Najorda basket but the E-Painters finished the period on 19-7 run for a 36-31 lead at the break.

Then it was all Rain or Shine from then on. Plugging the passing lanes and using their quickness to the hilt, the E-Painters unloaded a jarring 22-8 charge that made it a considerable 58-39 edge.

Overall, Rain or Shine translated San Mig’s 25 turnovers into 37 markers while also gaining a 25-9 advantage in fastbreak points.

“San Mig Coffee had an off night tonight. We didn’t know what kind of shape he’s in (Bowles). We plan to help up on him and zone him but he's still out of shape,” noted Guiao on their defensive plan against Bowles.

San Mig Coffee has only two days to regroup anew as it will take on formidable Talk ‘N Text on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

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Earlier, Barako Bull completed a bullish fightback from a 10-point deficit in the final five minutes to upend Air21, 91-86.

Import Evan Brock continued his impressive form with 23 points and 15 rebounds but it was Josh Urbiztondo who sparked the Energy Cola’s jarring 20-5 windup to gain a share of second spot with a 3-1 mark alongside idle Petron Blaze.

Living up to his moniker the “Fireball,” Urbiztondo drilled in all but two of his 15 points in the stretch, highlighted by three booming triples and a pair of key steals, enabling the injury-stricken Barako Bull to pull off another Houdini act.

“Big win for us tonight,” beamed Barako Bull team consultant Rajko Toroman. “This team has a character. They’re fighting till the end and we found a way to win this game.”

“These guys believe in the system that we’re playing. It’s not a process of one month. They’re working hard and they’re coming early in practice. Step by step they’ll pick up everything we want them to play,” added the Serbian mentor.

Going down the drain was import Michael Dunigan’s solid outing of 30 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks as the Express absorbed their second straight defeat after pulling off a 74-70 stunner against the Gin Kings last Feb. 10.

Playing minus Sean Anthony, Roger Yap, Celino Cruz, and rookie Emman Monfort along with limited services from guard Jonas Villanueva, the Energy Cola rode on the clutch exploits of Urbiztondo in dropping 17 unanswered points that gave them a big 88-81 cushion with under two minutes left.

The Express’ hopes remained alive courtesy of a Dunigan follow-up and a Nino Canaleta triple, cutting it to 86-88 with 19 second remaining.

But the Energy Cola wouldn’t be denied. Urbiztondo racked up two of the team’s last three free throws that sealed the deal.

The scores:
First Game
BARAKO BULL (91) – Brock 23, Intal 16, Urbiztondo 15, Seigle 10, Villanueva 9, Maliksi 7, Pennisi 5, Kramer 3, aAllado 2, Macapagal 1.

AIR21 (86) – Dunigan 30, Canaleta 15, Cortez 14, Ritualo 7, Arboleda 6, Wilson 4, Custodio 4, Isip 4, Omolon 2, Arkins 0, Sena 0, Baclao 0.
Quarterscores: 27-18, 46-47, 61-66, 91-86
Second Game
RAIN OR SHINE (93) – Cruz 16, Tiu 15, Sundov 14, Rodriguez 10, Ibanes 6, Lee 5, Matias 5, Norwood 5, Tang 4, Belga 4, Quinahan 4, Arana 3, Uyloan 2, Jaime 0.

SAN MIG COFFEE (65)  - Mallari 15, Yap 13, Bowles 12, Gonzales 8, Devance 4, Simon 4, Najorda 2, Pingris 2, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 2, Alvarez 1, Ponferada 0, Barroca 0, Pacana 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 36-31, 66-45, 93-65


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