But the Elasto Painters were seemingly just going through the motions for the most part, giving head coach Yeng Guiao few reasons to be pleased following his team's 88-81 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Jeffrei Chan scored a team-high 14 points, but it was the help from the likes of Ryan Arana and Ronnie Matias in the decisive fourth period which enabled Rain or Shine to quash the challenge of Shopinas and snap out of an alarming skid.
"It's just nice to break out of the losing streak," said Guiao after the rugged, often bruising game. "I think the guys just put out an effort enough to break out of that losing streak, although I'm not happy with the effort. We could have played a lot better."
The win was the eighth in 13 games for Rain or Shine and snapped its losing streak at four games. Shopinas was wishing for the same thing yet ultimately dropped its 13th straight game, matching the 29-year-old league's worst start. Great Taste also had a 0-13 start in the 1982 Reinforced Filipino Conference.
The Clickers could take sole hold of the dubious distinction if they drop their last elimination game against B-Meg on Thursday.
Jojo Duncil scattered a career-high 23 points to pace Shopinas, which had a splendid start but failed to take advantage of Rain or Shine’s losing prized rookie Paul Lee early in the game due to injury and center JR Quinahan to a major infraction in the third quarter. Lee, usually good for 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.0 steal per game, saw action for only two minutes in the first quarter. He left the game after getting kneed in the left shin by a driving Ogie Menor.
He was taken to a nearby hospital where tests conducted on his leg proved negative.
Another bright note Guiao could take solace from is the fact his players seldom wavered during their slide, which saw them lose by two points to B-Meg, Talk ‘N Text and Barako Bull.
"Those games were close," he pointed out. "I thought we should have won at least two of those. But it's not really like our world turned upside down. We were still playing good and the others were simply playing better.
"Baka merong cycle. It happens to all the teams. We hope with this (win) paakyat ulit cycle namin. Pero hindi kami nasiraan ng loob. We were losing on breaks, okay pa rin iyon."
Guiao now wants his team's game to pick up when they wind up the eliminations against Alaska on Sunday.
There would be no lightning striking Rain or Shine down Sunday and Matias and Arana made sure of that.
The two were at the forefront of the massive assault from a 62-58 count, with Arana repeatedly shredding Ren-Ren Ritualo's defense and Matias working double-time underneath in making it an unassailable 83-72 difference, only 2:30 left.
Quinahan also left the game due to an elbow on Menor's face, equivalent to a flagrant foul-penalty 2, with still 3:45 left in the third period. That gave Shopinas the opening to trim a 50-59 deficit to just six entering the final canto.
The Elasto Painters set themselves up for the win by limiting the Clickers to just five points in the second period to take a 41-32 lead at the half.
Those points, products of a 2-for-16 field shooting, tied Shopinas for ninth among all-time lows in league history and put to waste a fine start in which it raced to a 9-0 spread before stretching the lead by as much as 22-9.
The incidents involving Menor actually started in the first half in which Arana was assessed a flagrant foul-penalty 1 for elbowing Menor in the nape and Shopinas' Homer Se got thrown out due to two technical fouls in just three minutes of action. While the E-Painters seemingly drew inspiration from such infractions, the Clickers unraveled. (NC)
RAIN OR SHINE 88 - Chan 14, Arana 12, Quinahan 12, Matias 9, Norwood 9, Cruz 7, Tang 7, Belga 7, Rodriguez 7, Buenafe 4, Lee 0, Ibanes 0.
SHOPINAS.COM 81 - Duncil 23, Jazul 17, Sena 11, Hubalde 9, Espiritu 7, Ritualo 6, Menor 4, Sison 2, Daa 2, Escobal 0, Aquino 0, Se 0.
Quarterscores: 19-27, 41-32, 61-55, 88-81