By JONAS TERRADO
Games Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Meralco
6:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Ginebra
Kia’s much-maligned concept of playing unconventional basketball finally produced a victory last night in the most unconventional way after holding off Rain or Shine’s late scare, 98-94, snapping a 16-game losing skid in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Glenn Khobuntin scored back-to-back baskets that put the Picanto ahead 96-89 with over two minutes left, before sealing the final count with a breakaway layup that came after the Elasto Painters missed three successive tries to tie the game.
Picanto players couldn’t wipe away their smiles after the buzzer sounded while coach Ricky Dandan, who won after three games since succeeding the role vacated by Chris Gavina, heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“I’m relieved more than tired. I’m more relieved than anything else,” said Dandan. “We finally broke that losing skid and this will go a long way in our rebuilding of our ballclub.”
The Picanto victory ended a rugged contest that saw the ejections of Eric Camson and Elasto Painter Raymond Almazan in the second quarter for fighting.
Camson delivered an elbow to the face of Almazan while the two were jockeying for rebounding position. Almazan retaliated with his own elbow before both players were separated by cooler heads, leading to a huge roar from the crowd that included world boxing champion Jerwin Ancajas.
Both were immediately tossed for their actions, but Camson and Almazan had some choice words as they entered their respective locker rooms. Had not for a divider that looked like prison bars placed in the corridor, the two could have produced a sequel in front of a select few.
Khobuntin joined hands with an unlikely hero in Roider Cabrera as they combined for 17 points in the third quarter, a waterloo for the Picanto in their losses to the Magnolia Hotshots and Alaska Aces by an average of 42 points.
Rashawn McCarthy would score 11 of his 14 in the fourth quarter before Khobuntin’s back-to-back gave Kia that seven-point advantage and appeared to have a smooth-sailing ride towards victory.
In the second game, Magnolia scored 13 points in the final three minutes while holding Phoenix to just two in that stretch to escape with a 97-91 victory Saturday night and tighten its grip on second spot in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Ian Sangalang scored five points, including the go-ahead jumper with over a minute left that broke an 89-all tie, Paul Lee hit four free throws and Rafi Reavis made an undergoal stab to make it 95-91 with 16 seconds remaining to give the Hotshots their fourth win in five games this conference.
Lee topscored with 20 points, Sangalang had 16 points and seven rebounds and Reavis posted 11 points and 11 rebounds in his second game since returning from a hip injury.
Gelo Alolino scored 19 points and Matthew Wright made 17 but Phoenix dropped its second straight game and fell in a three-way tie for seventh at 2-3.
KIA 98 – McCarthy 14, Cabrera 14, Yee 13, Khobuntin 11, Camson 10, Celda 8, Galanza 8, Ababou 6, Sara 5, Tubid 5, Caperal 4.
RAIN OR SHINE 94 – Nambatac 12, Yap 11, Tiu 10, Ponferada 10, Ahanmisi 9, Belga 8, Norwood 8, Borboran 7, Maiquez 6, Almazan 6, Daquioag 4, King 2, Cruz 1, Matias 0, Trollano 0.
Quarters: 13-18; 40-44: 72-68; 98-94.
MAGNOLOIA 97 – Lee 20, Dela Rosa 17, Sangalang 16, Barroca 12, Reavis 11, Simon 6, Jalalon 5, Pingris 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Herndon 1, Melton 0.
PHOENIX 91 – Alolino 19, Wright 17, Chan 12, Jazul 9, Eriobu 8, Chua 7, Mendoza 6, Kramer 6, Intal 3, Revilla 2, Perkins 2, Wilson 0, Dehesa 0.
Quarters: 30-23, 47-45, 67-75, 97-91.