MANILA, Philippines — Rain or Shine import Arizona Reid posted a double-double in his return to power the Elasto Painters past the San Mig Coffee Mixers, 79-75, in opening night of the 38th PBA Governors’ Cup Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Reid, the one-time Best Import, put up 28 points and 20 rebounds to lead defending champion Rain or Shine while shooting guard Paul Lee added 12 points, including three free throws in the waning seconds of the game.
“We just stayed up all the way to the end. We had some scary moments. It’s just the desire of the guys to defend our title,” said ROS head coach Yeng Guiao.
Lee calmly sank two free throws to break a 75-deadlock with 39.7 seconds left before burying another one seconds later to make it a three-point game after a kick ball violation by Marqus Blakely.
“AZ (Reid) got frustrated because he couldn’t make his outside shots but he worked hard. Worked on his rebounds and putbacks,” said Guiao.
Blakely carried the Mixers in the second half with 17 of his 26 points coming in the last two quarters. The high-octane import though, couldn’t come through in his team’s last two opportunities.
Guiao added that he fought the urge not to field in Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood, who played key roles for the World Cup-bound national team in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship.
“I just held back from using Gabe and Jeff. I know they wanted to play and they wanted to contribute but we’re looking at a long term here,” Guiao said. “In the third they caught up with us. We lost our outside touch that could be a moment for Jeff. We had a tough matchup against their import. I thought Gabe is a pretty good matchup against their import. I just took a gamble there.”
“Without them, the rest of the guys stepped up. Winning is the top priority of course but there’s still some euphoria from the Gilas win.”
Chris Tiu chipped in 10 points, including a driving layup off a fastbreak to knot the count at 75, with 1:04 left.
As good as both imports were, Reid and Blakely showed flaws in their first game of the conference. Reid committed 10 turnovers while Blakely shot horrible at the line — going just six-of-19.
ROS rallied from nine points down early in the fourth quarter as it held without a field goal for close to a seven-minute stretch before Mark Barroca scored on a runner for a 75-73 Mixers lead at the 1:48 mark.
Even without perhaps its best defender in Norwood, Yap still couldn’t find the mark as he missed 13 of his 14 shots from the field.
The Mixers missed the services of Gilas undersized power forward Marc Pingris due to an injury he suffered in the Asian Championship.