THOUGH playing ugly as their coach himself admitted, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters found a way to win, and thus kept pace with the TNT Tropang Giga with their perfect runs in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble play.
Rey Nambatac, who had clutch hits in their first two wins, was at it again Sunday, making the game-winning two charities with 1.3 ticks to go as the E-Painters preserved a 70-68 victory over the NorthPort Batang Pier at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena.
Nambatac struggled with a 2-of-9 field shooting, including 0-of-5 from the arc, but nailed those important free throws to ward off a late NorthPort upheaval.
ROS moved to 3-0 while NorthPort went down to 0-3.
"Ever since he was my player at Letran, I've seen that he has the guts to take big shots," said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia of Nambatac.
But Garcia said team effort saved their clean slate, making special mention of rookies Adrian Wong and Clint Doliguez and their crucial contributions.
Wong, the No. 5 draft selection, indeed made his presence felt, introducing himself to pro play via a 15-point breakout game, marked by three triples.
"I shouted at him as he kept on hesitating to take shots and looked scared. It's good that he responded and stepped up," said Garcia of Wong.
Wong said the key to his game was his teammates believing in him.
"Actually, all of us. We believe in each other. We're a 15-deep team, everybody can take over the game," he said.
The E-Painters actually struggled in the game, starting poorly and trailing by as many as 13, and needed to lock in on defense to key a turnaround.
Down by six at the half, the E-Painters held the Batang Pier to two points in the third period to seize control before having to fend off NorthPort's own comeback bid.
NorthPort managed to pull even at 68-all in the last 3.3 seconds but then found a bad break of getting called a foul that sent Nambatac to the foul line for another winning moment.
"It's an ugly win for us. I believe we can do better. We have to review what went wrong. Maybe, tinamaan na ng pagod because it's our third consecutive game," said Garcia. (SB)
Rain or Shine 70 - Wong 15, Onwubero 11, Nambatac 10, Mocon 6, Dolliguez 6, Yap 5, Torres 5, Belga 5, Arana 3, Norwood 2, Rivero 0, Rosales 0, Tolentino 0, Borboran 0.
NorthPort 68 - Anthony 13, Lanete 13, Standhardinger 3, Revilla 7, Taha 4, Manganti 3, Cruz 3, Elorde 2, Subido 0, Grey 0, Guinto 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarterscores:14-25, 32-38, 46-40, 70-68