ROS overcomes Meralco challenge to post first back-to-back win


MANILA — The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters repulsed the skidding Meralco Bolts, 90-84, to nail their second straight win and fourth overall against two losses in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Despite swirling rumors of discontent among at least three key players, ROS showed enough grit and composure to overcome a spirited challenge from Meralco that was trying to bounce back after losing five of its last six games.

Chris Tiu led the Painters with 18 points, seven assists, and three rebounds. He scored six of his team’s last nine points. Tiu’s last field goal gave ROS a six-point lead, 86-79, with 52.8 seconds left.

Ed Daquioag added 16 points and three steals against his former team while Beau Belga finished with a double-double 13 points and 13 boards along with three assists, and one steal in 32 minutes as a starter. Belga was one of three players reportedly wanting to be traded to another team, with the other two being Raymond Almazan and Jericho Cruz.

The game was close throughout as evidenced by 18 lead changes and six deadlocks. The last of these deadlocks was at 79-all with three minutes left before the Painters detonated a 7-0 blast en route to victory.

Nino Canaleta led Meralco with 24 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, while Reynel Hugnatan added 13 points, four boards, and three assists in the defeat that sent Meralco crashing into a tie with Blackwater for 10th to 11th place in the standings with a 2-5 win-loss record just ahead of Kia (1-6).

Magnolia 78, Blackwater 72

The Magnolia Hotshots hardly missed the absence of injured top gunner Paul Lee as they survived a ferocious Blackwater comeback bid in the endgame to prevail over the Elite, 78-72.

It was the Hotshots’ fifth straight win and sixth overall against a single loss as Magnolia grabbed the solo top spot in the standings. The Elite suffered a fourth straight loss after winning their first two games in the conference.

Mark Barroca and Aldrech Ramos led a balanced Magnolia offense, both scoring 14 points. Barroca also had three rebounds and three assists off the bench while Ramos had five boards. Ian Sangalang and Justin Melton added eight points apiece.

The Hotshots erected an 18-point lead, 52-34 early in the quarter. But the Elite came charging back in the payoff period, knotting the score at 72-all after a 14-2 run with over a minute left. Magnolia responded, however, with a 6-0 blast to finish off Blackwater.

The Blackwater loss spoiled an explosive night for Mac Belo who tied his career-high with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Belo also had six rebounds, six steals, one assist, and one block in less than 26 minutes off the bench.

However, the Blackwater gunner also caused his team’s downfall when he committed a crucial backing violation in the waning seconds of the game.

Playing his first game against his former team, Allein Maliksi unloaded 17 points, including three triples, along with four rebounds and one block.

Blackwater still had another chance to send the game into overtime, but Nard Pinto missed on a fastbreak layup. Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton then hit free throws to seal the win.

Game on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018: Barangay Ginebra Kings (3-3) vs. NLEX Road Warriors (2-4)