Birthday boy Paul Lee made a presence for himself as he hit an alleyoop layup with nine-tenths of a second remaining to lift the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to an 83-80 squeaker over the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers in Game One of the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup finals on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Lee only had 6 pts but his final basket mattered most for the E-Painters.
“We got lucky in the end. We set up the play for Jeff (Chan), but it was Paul who got open. Good recognition by Gabe (Norwood),” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“It could’ve gone either way.”
The Mixers were coming off a grueling seven-game Manila Clasico semifinals series against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel that only ended last Wednesday. San Mig Coffee had just one day to prepare, in contrast to Rain or Shine, which had a weeklong break after dispatching Petron in five games in their own semifinals series.
The Elasto Painters threatened to pull away early, but the Mixers kept within striking distance. While Rain or Shine controlled most of the game, San Mig Coffee never left behind and stayed within striking distance.
“They do not look like they’re tired. Coach Tim’s just doing a great job preserving his players,” said Guiao. “The bench of San Mig is becoming a really tough challenge for us.”
Rain or Shine still led by two points, 69-67, on two free throws by Gabe Norwood early in the fourth period. But the Mixers, sparked by second-string guards Alex Mallari and Justin Melton, rattled off a 9-1 blast to take a 76-70 advantage.
The Elasto Painters quickly fought back with an 8-0 run anchored by Jeff Chan's back-to-back three-pointers to regain the lead, 78-76.
San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone responded by pulling back his starters. Rising to the occasion, James Yap nailed two straight jumpers from the same spot to push the Mixers ahead, 80-78, with 34.7 seconds left.
Chan missed a three-point attempt in the ensuing play, but Jervy Cruz recovered the loose ball and made a hook shot over Marc Pingris to tie the game anew, 80-all, with 22.5 seconds remaining.
Mark Barroca was foiled in a drive in the Mixers’ final possession, allowing Rain or Shine to recover the ball with 1.6 seconds remaining. Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao drew up a play that opened up Lee, who turned 25, for the layup off a pass by Gabe Norwood.
The Mixers called an extra timeout, resulting in a technical foul and a free throw for Lee. San Mig Coffee’s desperation attempt was not close, allowing Rain or Shine to take the series opener.
Guiao downplayed the importance of the first win.
“Game One is really a feeling out game,” he said, before noting that he expects Rain or Shine’s depth to be a factor as the series goes along.
“The longer this series takes, the more advantage we have.”
Beau Belga and Jervy Cruz led the E-Painters with 15 pts each as the E-Painters used a balanced offense with 9 players scoring at least 5 points.
Joe Devance topped the Super Coffee Mixers with 17 pts, Pingris and Peter June Simon added 13 each. Yap contributed 12.
Game 2 will be on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
RAIN OR SHINE 83 – Belga 15, Cruz 15, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 7, Arana 6, Lee 6, Tang 5, Teng 5, Almazan 4, Quinahan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Ibanes 0.
SAN MIG SUPER 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
--- with reports from Interaksyon.com
Paul Lee saves Rain Or Shine over San Mig, hits game winning shot on game 1 of the Finals Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on on 2/14/2014 Rating: