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Menk steps up bigtime for Kings

Coach Caloy Garcia saw it coming yet they failed to avoid it.

Before the game, the Rain or Shine mentor prophetically said Ginebra is a dangerous foe even without an import.

Barangay Ginebra came out playing with a lot of spunk and energy minus an import and stunned Rain or Shine, 94-89, in the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum Friday night.

"They (the Elasto Painters) seemed to relax a bit playing against an import-less rival. That's human nature. We, on the other hand, worked fluidly without the pressure of playing minus an import," said Ginebra coach Jong Uichico.

The Kings were forced to play with an all-Filipino cast with supposed new import Ryan Humphrey measuring a fraction above the 6-foot-6 height limit.

A replacement in David Noel is expected to arrive Saturday. Noel was a member of the North Carolina team that won the US NCAA championship in 2006. He averaged 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks in that season and was subsequently drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with their 39th overall pick.

Noel debuts with the Kings together with new local recruits Cyrus Baguio and Homer Se Monday against Burger King. Ginebra acquired Baguio and Se from BK in exchange for future draft picks.

Minus an import, the Kings just worked very hard to pull the rug from under Jai Lewis and his Rain or Shine teammates.

Ginebra jacked up its record to 3-5 while dealing Rain or Shine a fourth loss against five wins.

Eric Menk, Jayjay Helterbrand, Paul Artadi and JC Intal produced significant numbers for the Kings who jumped out of the starting gate and hung tough in the face of Rain or Shine's tough challenge at the finish.

The Kings squandered a 13-point first-quarter lead, falling behind by seven in the third, but recovered to notch a followup on their 111-103 win over the Barako Bull Energy Boosters before the Holy Week break.

Artadi, Helterbrand and Menk themselves delivered the lethal plays breaking Rain or Shine's back in the homestretch.

Menk paced Ginebra with 24 points while Intal came through with a double-double effort with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Helterbrand and Artadi contributed 20 and 14 points, respectively.

The Elasto Painters were still ahead at 82-78 with 4:51 left to play before going scoreless in the next four minutes of play. Artadi, Helterbrand and Menk combined for nine points in that stretch giving Ginebra a decisive 87-82 lead.

Menk and Intal scored 17 points together coming off the bench, fueling Ginebra's breakaway late in the first quarter.

The Kings took the opening period at 31-18 and sustained their charge in the next canto to enjoy a 50-39 spread at halftime.

Menk more than held his own against Lewis in the first half with the one-time MVP awardee getting 15 points and six rebounds as against the Rain or Shine import's eight points and seven rebounds.

Intal had huge contribution in the first half, churning out 10 points, seven rebounds and one assist. (NC)

The scores:

Ginebra 94 -- Menk 24, Helterbrand 20, Artadi 14, Intal 12, Mamaril 8, Reavis 5, Lanete 4, Tubid 3, Pacana 2, Wilson 2.

Rain or Shine 89 - Mercado 24, Lewis 20, Norwood 9, Dulay 9, Reyes 9, Wainwright 7, Tang 5, Isip 2, Salangsang 2, Laure 2, Arana 0, Ibanes 0.

Quarterscores: 31-18, 50-39, 63-69, 94-89.

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