RAIN or Shine may have finally found the real spark it was looking for in Kwame Alexander.
Alexander lit the fire from under the Elasto Painters for a big finishing kick, enabling them to ward off Blackwater 99-82 last night and fan their hopes of staying alive for the PBA Governors Cup playoffs hunt at the Astrodome.
The former NLEX import, Rain or Shine’s third reinforcement for the conference, highlighted his 17-point, 16-rebound effort in his first game back with two crucial plays just seconds apart that ignited the team’s decisive 15-1 breakaway from a precarious 84-81 count.
First, Alexander boomed in a shotclock-beating trey and then, after Rey Nambatac’s jumper, came up with a steal and completed a three-point play that enabled the E-Painters to snap a four-game slide.
With a 2-5 record overall, however, Rain or Shine still needs to win all four of its remaining elimination round assignments to gain inclusion among the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals.
That’s a bridge the E-Painters will try to cross when they get there. For now, they are just happy to get one monkey off their back.
“Finally, we were able to at least break the losing streak,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.
“We still have a chance for the top eight. We know that it’s going to be hard like the game today. We were just lucky that we were hitting shots.”
Nambatac was foremost among those who helped out Alexander, notching 18 points, seven rebounds and as many assists, while Beau Belga also scored 17 points before fouling out with still 3:37 left.
The loss, its second straight, dropped Blackwater to an identical record as its latest conqueror and idle Phoenix Pulse, putting it in a similar must-win situation in all its remaining games.
Bobby Ray Parks wound up with a game-high 27 points while Marqus Blakely finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks and Mike Cortez adding a personal season-high 16 points.
The Elite actually led by as many as nine points in the early goings mainly due to Parks’ fiery start. But when their leading scorer turned cold, so did most of the team.