Ronald Tubid (71) of Kia Picanto and Don Trollano (19) of Rain Or Shine prevent Raymond Almazan (left) and Eric Camson from trading blows during their PBA Philippine Cup game yesterday at the Cuneta Astrodome.     Joey Mendoza

Kia heats up, ends long slump
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — They absorbed 13 straight defeats the last eight months, three unthinkable losses early in the season, and coming into the game, they lost four reliables in a game that reached boiling point, but the remaining Kia players showed tremendous heart and character to put an end to the franchise’s long slump.

As in their previous games, the Picanto, who hung dearly to a seven-point lead, nearly flubbed it again in the last two minutes, but hung on in the end, upending the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94, in a fight-marred game in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome last night.

Eric Camson, the team’s leading scorer with an average of 13.0 points a game, joined Jackson Corpuz, JayR Reyes and Carlo Lastimosa on the sidelines after trading elbows and punches with Raymond Almazan in the second quarter.

But the scuffle seemed to fire up the Picanto, staying together all throughout to finally score a breakthrough in PBA Season 43 and end a 16-game losing spell dating back to the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.

It was their first win in the season after four losses, three by a whopping combined losing margin of 107 points to the Phoenix Fuel Masters, the Magnolia Hotshots and to the Alaska Milk Aces.

It’s also Kia’s very first win ever over Rain or Shine.

And the Picanto, thus, avoided matching Barangay Ginebra’s dubious mark of 17 straight defeats in 1995.

The E-Painters bungled numerous cracks at salvaging the game at the finish and went down with a third loss in five starts.

“The guys are determined to show that they can win games in the league, and they showed it tonight,” said Ricky Dandan, nailing a win in his third game as head coach of the Picanto.

Forty-year-old Magnolia skipper Rafi Reavis converted a clutch shot at the finish to cap an 11-point, 11-rebound game as the Hotshots stayed right behind unbeaten frontrunner San Miguel Beer as they fended off the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 97-91, in the second game.

“I’m trying to get back in shape and trying to give what they’ve been missing from me,” said Reavis, who made a big impact in his second game coming back from an injury.  

 

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