Rain or Shine seizes 1-0 lead as Lee nails winner
MANILA, Philippin es — Paul Lee completed the game-winning alley-oop play with nine-tenths of a second left Friday night as Rain or Shine scored an 83-80 victory over San Mig Coffee that gave the Painters a 1-0 lead in their PLDT MyDSL Philippine Cup title playoffs at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gabe Norwood threw the perfect feed to Lee off an inbounds pass as the Elasto Painters won out in a defense oriented game by scoring five points inside the final 22.5 seconds for the psychological edge in the best-of-seven series.
San Mig, which is coming off a gruelling seven-game series against Barangay Ginebra, actually held an 80-78 lead going into the final 34.7 seconds after two straight James Yap baskets.
And the Mixers even had possession after Jervy Cruz knotted it all up at 80 with 22.5 to go, only for them to bungle the golden chance when Mark Barroca—one of their heroes against the Gin Kings—threw up an airball that left 1.6 ticks on the clock.
That was all that coach Yeng Guiao needed to devise a game-winning play, instructing the team to attack the defense of Barroca with Lee more than willing to oblige as he lost the San Mig point guard in a pick given by Beau Belga.
Lee’s basket made it 82-80, but the Elasto Painters gained a more comfortable buffer when San Mig was called for a technical foul after calling for a time which it didn’t have.
“It’s just the first game and we got lucky,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said. “We set up the play for Jeff (Chan) but it was Paul who got open. It was good recognition by Gabe (in the inbound).”
Game 2 is set tomorrow at 5 p.m. also at the Big Dome in Cubao.
The win was also the first for Rain or Shine in an all-Filipino title series after they were swept by Talk ‘N Text in four games last season.
“I feel really horrible,” San Mig coach Tim Cone said. “That (defensive breakdown) was on me. Yeng really did a brilliant play. That (lost) game was on me.”
“Our guys really played hard,” Cone said in a somber tone. “They gave us a chance to win it but I blew it for them.”
Belga and Cruz led the Painters with 15 points each, while Joe Devance, who is nursing a sore right ankle, paced the Mixers with 17.
Meanwhile, a Chinese pro league veteran and a tested scorer will beef up crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup set to blast off in the first week of March.
Just a day after horribly losing Game 7 of their Philippine Cup Final Four series with San Mig Coffee, the Gin Kings have come to terms with Leon Rodgers, making Ginebra the seventh team already with an import for the season’s second conference.
Listed as 6-foot-7 and sure to fit the 6-foot-9 ceiling, Rodgers will be coming in fresh from a stint with the Jilin Northeast Tigers, which he beefed up together with former San Mig Coffee import Denzel Bowles.
“We saw how he played in China,” Ginebra coach Ato Agustin said of Rodgers in Filipino. “He is a very good all-around player than can play the 3-4 positions. He’s a scorer.”
In the Chinese Basketball Association, Rodgers once threw up 15 triples in one game and finished with 66 points in a 124-110 victory over Shanxi Zhongyu on March 2009.
He averaged close to 30 points in his last season with the Tigers.
The Philippine Cup result was a letdown for the Kings, who qualified as No. 1 overall for the playoffs before taking an 87-110 loss at the hands of the Mixers just last Wednesday.
That was the worst loss by any team in a Game 7 in the 39-year history of the PBA.
RAIN OR SHINE 83—Belga 15, Cruz 15, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 7, Araña 6, Lee 6, Tang 5, Teng 5, Almazan 4, Quiñahan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Ibañes 0.
SAN MIG COFFEE 80—Devance 17, Pingris 13, Simon 13, Yap 12, Barroca 9, Melton 6, Mallari 4, Reavis 4, Sangalang 2, De Ocampo 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 37-37, 60-59, 83-80
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