Duke Crews immediately made his presence felt in his first game back with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters as they grabbed a come-from-behind victory over Barangay Ginebra, 118-112, Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The defending Commissioner’s Cup champions replaced their former import Shawn Taggart in the hopes of improving their record in the latter part of their title defense. Crews did not disappoint in his debut as he posted 28 points, 22 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
The returning import pounded away underneath all game long against the tough interior defense of Ginebra. He kept on muscling his way past the towering figures of Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar, and Joe Devance.
“The change of import was good for us because Duke was aggressive on the boards. I don’t know how many offensive boards he got. Those second chance points were a lot,” coach Caloy Garcia on their decision to switch reinforcements.
Indeed, the Elasto Painters dominated the boards (53-41) and had the advantage in second chance points (30-12) mainly because of Crews’s hard work.
Rain or Shine erased a 16-point deficit by bridging the third and fourth frames with a 23-2 run, with Chris Tiu providing some much-needed spark with his long bombs.
After struggling on the defensive end earlier and getting frustrated with foul calls, ROS managed to adjust and make stops in the crucial moments.
Jericho Cruz (19 points, five rebounds, three steals) and Jay Washington (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists) did not allow the game to slip from their hands. They had been on-target since the first half but their clutch plays in the payoff period sealed it for Rain or Shine.
The Kings almost rallied back in the dying minutes behind massive efforts from Brownlee and Devance.
Ginebra’s import hit a huge three-pointer at the 1:29 mark to put his team on top by two points. The Elasto Painters, however, reclaimed the lead with free throws by Washington and a fastbreak layup off a steal by Cruz.
Brownlee’s monster number of 38 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four blocks were all for naught as they ended a hot five-game streak with just their second loss of the conference. Devance added 19 markers.
RAIN OR SHINE 118 – Crews 28, Cruz 19, Washington 16, Yap 15, Ponferada 11, Cahn 8, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Trollano 6, Ahanmisi 2, Norwood 1, Tolomia 0, Matias 0.
GINEBRA 112 – Brownlee 38, Devance 19, Aguilar 15, Thompson 10, Ellis 9, Ferrer 6, Caguioa 6, Mercado 5, Tenorio 4.
Quarterscores: 24-31, 56-59, 83-93, 118-112.
– Duke Crews last played for Rain or Shine in 2011. He just finished his stint in the Indonesian Basketball League, prior to getting re-hired in the PBA.
– Fresh from their weeklong SEABA tournament, Japeth Aguilar immediately saw action for Ginebra. Raymond Almazan, on the other hand, only watched from the sidelines so as not to disrupt the adjustments that ROS made when they practiced without the big man.
– Ginebra would have secured their playoff spot had they managed to win but Rain or Shine spoiled their plans.
– Per league statistician Fidel Mangonon, James Yap’s 15 points in tonight’s game moved him to #14 in all-time scoring ladder among locals, overtaking 1977 MVP Freddie Hubalde.
– LA Tenorio played his 500th straight game in the PBA. He has never missed a match since he entered the league back in 2006.
Ginebra – May 21 (Sunday) vs. San Miguel Beermen at the Mall of Asia Arena
Rain or Shine – May 26 (Friday) vs. GlobalPort Batang Pier at the Alonte Sports Arena, Laguna