The Rain or Shine Elastopainters recovered from a poor first-half performance to beat the San Miguel Beermen, 98-94, and take the series opener in the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday, April 24 at the Big Dome.
The Beermen had a rousing start in the first quarter, especially from beyond the arc as they drained six triples in that quarter alone. Import Tyler Wilkerson paced SMB with 20 points, outscoring the entire Rain or Shine to close the first canto at 33-17.
The Painters chipped SMB’s lead in the second period behind Paul Lee and Jericho Cruz’s combined 8-0 run midway in the quarter. Rain or Shine was able to trim the Beermen’s deficit to six, but June Mar Fajardo responded with two baskets to restore SMB’s lead to double digits at the half, 50-40.
In the third quarter, Rain or Shine’s local players stepped up big time to change the complexion of the game. They tightened their defense and limited the Beermen on offense. Wilkerson had 32 points to close the third for SMB, but the Painters had made it a game at 75-72.
The final period was a back-and-forth affair as team traded basket after basket. In the final two minutes, the game was tied at 92-all. Fajardo knocked down a basket, but Jeff Chan answered with a trey to give Rain or Shine the lead. Fajardo’s basket was the last field goal for SMB. Rookie Maverick Ahanmisi took care of three freethrows to seal the match for Rain or Shine.
Ahanmisi led the Painters with a career-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds. Import Pierre Henderson-Niles had a so-so outing with 13 points, while Cruz and Chan finished with 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
Wilkerson had another monster output for SMB with 40 points. Fajardo posted 23 markers, and Alex Cabagnot contributed 15.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is set on Tuesday, 7 p.m. still at the Big Dome.