Greg Smith II could just be the savior Rain or Shine prayed for as he helped the team finally break through in the PBA Governors’ Cup by adding to Blackwater’s woes, 122-117, Sunday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The 32-year-old finished with 38 points, six rebounds, five assists, and a steal as the Elasto Painters avoided extending their worst start in franchise history since the 2018 Governors’ Cup, which they also began with a 0-4 card.
Smith scored 11 of his points in the final period, where he joined hands with Santi Santillan and an unlikely spark in Nick Demusis for the telling 19-5 rally towards a 106-100 lead with 7:12 left, taking the lead for good.
“To be honest, I was kind of worried because he came from a long flight,” said head coach Yeng Guiao. “Hasn’t been really competing the last few months actually. I know he’s not in 100 percent shape.
“But I guess he just proved me wrong today and played his heart out. I wasn’t really expecting him to score that heavily tonight, just trying to help out the team in different ways. But that’s really a big bonus for us,” he added.
Santillan finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Demusis tallied a career-high 12 points together with five boards and three steals.
Rookie Shaun Ildefonso came through as well with a season-high 12 points. Vet Beau Belga chimed in 12 as well, on top of seven rebounds.
“Actually, I talked to Greg right when he came in, and we all know the imports have to produce the numbers. But I also told him that it’s gonna be easier for us to win games if we’re able to involve our locals,” said Guiao.
“Our locals can score. We know those guys can make contributions on offense, so we’re getting there. I think this is a good start,” he added.
Rain or Shine (1-4) will take on Terrafirma next on Thursday, February 16, 4:30 p.m. at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, hoping to make it two in a row.
Troy Williams led Blackwater with 40 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block but continued his turnover woes as he had nine.
James Sena made 15 points, Tyrus Hill had 14, while Rashawn McCarthy added 10 for a Bossing side that absorbed its fourth loss in a row.
Blackwater (1-5) will be up against the 5-1 TNT on Wednesday, February 15, 3 p.m. also at the MoA Arena.
Rain or Shine 122 – Smith 38, Santillan 16, Demusis 12, Belga 12, Ildefonso 12, Nambatac 9, Asistio 7, Clarito 5, Ponferrada 4, Norwood 4, Caracut 3, Torres 0, Yap 0.
Blackwater 117 – Williams 40, Sena 15, Hill 14, McCarthy 10, Ilagan 8, Ular 7, Casio 5, Amer 5, Ayonayon 4, Banal 3, Suerte 3, Taha 2, Torralba 0.
Quarterscores: 34-31, 66-67, 87-95, 122-117.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.