MANILA, January 27, 2006
(BULLETIN) By noli cruz - IT’S RAINING mad in and out of the Ynares Center last night. Ren-Ren Ritualo, known around the league as the “Rainman,” drowned the Purefoods Chunkee Giants with an avalanche of three-pointers and led the Air21 Express to a runaway 101-87 victory in the San Mig Coffee 2005-06 PBA Fiesta Conference.

The former De La Salle hotshot had one-man runs of 9-0 and 8-0 in the middle periods en route to a career-high 40 points. His previous high of 36 was also set at the Ynares Center.

It was the highest point total of a local this conference, six more than Mark Caguioa’s 34.

His back-to-back triples and a long jumper midway in the third gave the Express an 81-56 lead.

Shawn Daniels added a free throw and a basket to make it an 11-0 run and push the lead to 84-56.

"Ren-Ren single-handedly carried us in this game," said Express coach Bo Perasol.

"You can feel that he wanted to take charge."

Ritualo affirmed his coach’s observation.

"Kailangan mag-take charge. Kahit ‘di ko feel na mainit ako kailangan kong tumira dahil ‘yun talaga ang role ko sa team," Ritualo said.

The Express started to pull away in the early goings of the third, scoring eight unanswered points highlighted by triples from Wynne Arboleda and Ritualo for a 64-46 lead.

The victory prevented the Express from falling into 0-3 hole and pulled them to within 1-2 instead.

Ritualo poured in 14 points in the second period, the last 12 coming from beyond the arc.

He canned three straight treys to give the Express their biggest lead at that point, 47-34.

His last triple in the first half restored a doubledigit spread for the Express, 52-40.

Facing a must-win situation, the Express attacked early. They raced to a 14-2 lead and kept the Giants at bay with timely hits from downtown.

The scores:

First Game

AIR21 101 — Ritualo 40, Daniels 16, Arboleda 15, R. de Ocampo 11, Cañaleta 7, Ferriols 3, Dacia 2, David 2, Tubid 2, Y. de Ocampo 2, Se 1, Gonzales 0, Fran 0.

PUREFOODS 87 — Chandler 23, J. Yap 16, Pingris 14, Raymundo 9, Salvador 4, Limpot 4, Yee 4, Artadi 3, Simon 3, R. Yap 3, Billones 2, Castillo 2.

Quarters: 31-24, 56-46, 88-61, 101-87.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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