MANILA, Philippines -- Rain or Shine leaned on a "vintage" performance from Denzel Bowles to rack up its second win in a row on Sunday, as the import dominated the fourth quarter of their PBA Commissioner's Cup game against Phoenix.
Bowles, still best known as the hero of San Mig Coffee's title run in the 2012 PBA Commissioner's Cup, tallied 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting on top of 14 rebounds and 5 assists. He played 41 minutes, and only grew stronger as the game went on: Bowles scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to tow the Elasto Painters to an 89-82 triumph.
"I don't know, it felt like vintage me. Back a couple of years ago when I played here, the takeover like that, it felt really good," a beaming Bowles told reporters after the game, which hiked Rain or Shine's record to 2-2.
A 7-point flurry by Bowles gave Rain or Shine a 77-76 lead with 3:26 left, though he also committed a foul on Matthew Wright in the next possession that allowed the Phoenix guard to complete a four-point play. It was one of the few mistakes that Bowles made in the fourth quarter, however.
He went on to anchor a 9-0 run by ROS, putting them ahead 86-80 with under two minutes left. He also drew the final foul of Phoenix import Richard Howell, denying Phoenix their top scorer in the final 3:40 of the game.
"I just got the opportunity, and luckily, their import fouled out, and I just wanted to take over and give us a chance to win tonight," said Bowles.
The 30-year-old's performance drew praise from head coach Caloy Garcia, who said that Bowles "didn't want to lose."
"That's the kind of character of an import that you want," said Garcia.
"At the beginning of the game, I told Denzel to just keep passing the ball to the locals and try to get everybody involved, kasi dino-double siya lagi eh," he added. "The nice thing in the fourth is, he took matters in his own hands. Dino-double siya pero binubuhat niya."
Bowles, who is averaging 27.75 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, believes his "vintage" performance is due in part to improved chemistry with his teammates. The well-traveled Bowles last played in the Philippines in 2016, for the Purefoods franchise, and he admits he is still adjusting to the different system in Rain or Shine.
"It's a different offense for me, and I'm adjusting to my teammates, and they're adjusting to me. And I think every game, we're getting better and better," he explained.
"We're a defensive team so we're gonna always be in the game."
Bowles has some time to keep developing chemistry with his teammates, as they won't play again until June 19 when they take on NorthPort at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Asked if he hopes to put together more vintage performances as the tournament goes on, the former Best Import grinned widely.
"That's what I'm feeling," said Bowles. "I hope so."
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