Elasto Painters still hot, down Boosters
MANILA, Philippines — Running when the chance presented itself and executing patiently when needed, Rain or Shine Monday night broke down Petron Blaze with clinical precision for a 103-95 Game 1 victory in their PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup Final Four series at Mall of Asia Arena.
Practically everything and everyone clicked for the Elasto Painters, who trailed just once at 4-6 before going on to lead by as large as 17 points and having an answer to every Petron comeback in the stretch for the psychological edge in their best-of-seven series.
“This (Petron) is a powerhouse team and it was really the effort and the desire of the boys that got us through,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao told reporters.
“It’s only the first game and we need three more (victories) and that won’t be easy against Petron.”
If anything, Rain or Shine certainly made it look easy in the series opener.
Paul Lee instigated a huge third quarter for the Painters with flair, shooting eight of his team-high 18 points in that stretch as Rain or Shine, which lost in last season’s Finals here via a sweep to Talk ‘N Text, broke the game wide open.
A former Rookie of the Year, Lee gave Rain or Shine a 57-42 lead with a sick hangtime move to complete a coast-to-coast drive, shaming the defense of reigning MVP Arwind Santos that got the adrenaline of the Painters going even more.
Jervy Cruz added 15 points and Beau Belga had 11 while spending most of his 29 minutes on the floor putting a body on 6-foot-10 Petron cornerstone June Mar Fajardo.
Fajardo still led the Boosters with 23 points and 15 boards, but he practically had to bleed for his production with the Rain or Shine defense clamping down hard on him every time in the shaded lane.
If it was any consolation for the Boosters, they did finish the game with some sort of momentum after coming within five points in the final 31.7 courtesy of three-point baskets from Marcio Lassiter.
Lassiter finished with 20 points like Santos, who fouled out in the dying seconds after also collaring 17 rebounds.
The missing link for the Boosters was Chris Lutz, who scored all of his four points inside the final 60 seconds.
Game 2 is slated tomorrow at 8 p.m., also at MOA Arena, and Guiao is bracing his boys for a hard Petron fightback. But the fiery drillmaster is confident that they can weather the tide.
“This is the way we want it played—fast and open court,” Guiao said. “Petron also plays the open court well, but with our (deep) rotation, we feel we can sustain this (pace) even for a seven-game series if need be.”
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra and San Mig Coffee open their own best-of-seven series at MOA Arena Tuesday in a duel that promises to be another smash hit at the gates.
Game starts 8 p.m., with both squads expected to be sharp and focused after pulling off quarterfinal series-deciding victories over the last three days.
RAIN OR SHINE 103—Lee 18, Cruz 15, Belga 11, Arana 10, Nuyles 9, Almazan 7, Rodriguez 7, Norwood 7, Chan 6, Teng 6, Ibanes 5, Tiu 2, Tang 0.
PETRON 95—Fajardo 23, Lassiter 20, Santos 20, Ross 8, Hubalde 6, Cabagnot 4, Lutz 4, Duncil 2, Tubid 3, Lanete 2, Kramer 2.
Quarters: 28-20, 49-40, 76-63, 103-95
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