The Elasto Painters were a dominant force, leading by as many as 21 points with Almazan checking his personal slump.
CALASIAO - Raymond Almazan was finally back in his element, enjoying his moment in this Pangasinan first-class town as Rain or Shine inched closer to a playoff entry with a 101-95 drubbing of Magnolia in their PBA Philippine Cup Petron Blaze road tussle here Saturday.
With his issue with his coach obviously a thing of the past, Almazan came through with a splendid showing with 23 points, six rebounds, two blocks and one assist as the Elasto Painters chalked up a third straight win and closed in on the tournament front runners with a 5-3 overall mark.
Alaska Milk and San Miguel left as the two joint leaders at 6-2, with Magnolia dropping to third at 6-3 on a second straight loss on the continued absence of ace guard Paul Lee.
Almazan frolicked underneath the boards and ROS guards Gabe Norwood, Maverick Ahanmisi, James Yap and Chris Tiu showed up their Magnolia counterparts as Rain or Shine roared to a third straight win after earlier victories over NLEX and Meralco.
The 6-foot-7 center, who had an issue with coach Caloy Garcia early in the season, struggled with a mere average of 7.0 points in his first five games. He was not utilized in one game and served a game suspension for his fight with KIA forward Eric Camson.
But all those were behind him.
Almazan teamed up with Jewel Ponferada, Rey Nambatac, Norwood and Ahanmisi to give the E-Painters a 9-0 opening salvo. And he's on the floor as the E-Painters posted their 21-point spread early in the fourth.
The Hotshots failed to enjoy the lead even in one instance. From their early nine-point deficit, the Hotshots fought to tie the count at 28-all only to fall behind again immediately.
The E-Painters sizzled with 13-of-35 three-pointers and hit at a 47-percent overall field clip in dominating the Hotshots.
They didn't lack the savvy and firepower from their backcourt even in the absence of Jericho Cruz, who could well be heading to another ball club in the next few days.
Yap fired 13 points, Norwood and Ahanmisi scored 12 apiece while Tiu added 11 as they outperformed Magnolia guards Marc Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Justin Melton and PJ Simon.
At the height of the Hotshots last-gasp chase, the Calasiao crowd chanted "Paul Lee! Paul Lee! Paul Lee!" Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, however, opted to continue to rest his top combo guard. (SB)
Rain or Shine 101 - Almazan 23, Yap 13, Norwood 12, Ahanmisi 12, Tiu 11, Daquioag 9, Borboran 5, Trollano 5, Ponferada 5, Nambatac 3, Belga 3.
Magnolia 95 - Ramos 27 , Dela Rosa15, Jalalon 14, Barroca 10, Sangalang 8, Pingris 7, Melton 6, Mendoza 5, Reavis 3, Gamalinda 0, Simon 0, Pascual 0, Brondial 0.
Quarters: 26-21, 46-35, 77-66, 101-95.