BEAU Belga had his moments for Rain or Shine Wednesday, and so did Ed Daquioag and Javee Mocon.
Quietly, Carl Montgomery did his part, helping the Elasto Painters hurdle Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok 86-82 in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Belga scored a personal conference-high 22 points, Daquioag half of his 14 points in a third quarter uprising and Mocon all his seven points in sparking a game-turning surge in the fourth period.
Montgomery also did his thing, especially in the endgame with two defensive stops that enabled Rain or Shine to realize a second straight win as it tied its victim at 5-5 but wrestled fifth-running spot due to the winner-over-the-other rule.
Another win, against San Miguel Beer on Saturday, and the E-Painters will not only officially book a seat in the eight-team quarterfinals but also avoid a twice-to-beat handicap in the next round.
"He is not the biggest import, not the tallest, not the strongest, but he was able to give us the energy in the second half when we started scoring," said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia of Montgomery, who came is as a last-minute replacement for Denzel Bowles.
Bowles, who suffered a knee injury in the course of an 86-84 win over Alaska last Saturday, could be back in harness by the time the playoffs come around, toting with him his averages of 29 points, 12 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Montgomery finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against five turnovers.
On the other side of the fence, Ian Sangalang also posted his own conference-best of 24, James Farr added 19 points and a game-high 23 rebounds and Mark Barroca narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
But a shooting touch that went south as the game wore on, Paul Lee getting sidelined by a tweaked left ankle in the third period that limited his movements when he returned and Rain or Shine's sheer tenacity in the last 24 minutes of play all combined to ultimately send Magnolia reeling to its third straight loss.
The E-Painters' unyielding attitude was typified best by Montgomery after the Hotshots came knocking within 80-84, with 1:31 left in the game. First, he stopped Sangalang's shot from underneath before swatting away Jio Jalalon's lay-up.
Montgomery failed to ice the game outright when he muffed two charities off Sangalang's last foul. But, after Farr missed on a wild drive, Gabe Norwood did with his freebies extending the lead to six, only 9 ticks left.
Those endgame efforts preserved the yeomanlike performance put in by Belga, who came off the bench to make eight of his 14 shots, including a 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Mocon's brightest moment in the game came when he strung up all of his seven points to spark Rain or Shine's 11-0 breakaway from the fourth and last deadlock at 69.
Daquioag capped that surge with a floater and his near-triple gave the E-Painters an 84-78 cushion after Barroca boomed in two triples and Jalalon one in a whirlwind tear that brought the Hotshots within 78-82.
Magnolia actually led by as large as 33-21 in the second period and toted a 41-35 lead at the break, but was done in when it made only 17 of 55 field goal shots in the second half, compared to Rain or Shine going 19-of-35, including 7-of-18 from beyond the arc.(NC)
Rain or Shine 86 - Belga 22; Montgomery 20, Daquioag 14, Rosales 7, Mocon 7, Norwood 5, Nambatac 5, Ponferada 3, Torres 2, Borboran 1.
Magnolia 82 - Sangalang 24, Farr 19, Barroca 14, Lee 9, Jalalon 7, Dela Rosa 6, Herndon 3, Melton 0, Pingris 0, Brondial 0.
Quarterscores: 15-22, 35-41, 64-61, 86-82.