The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters drew first blood via a 105-97 win against the Alaska Aces to open their best-of-seven series in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The E-Painters survived Rob Dozier’s monster performance for the Aces. Alaska’s reinforcement scored a personal-best 41 points, but it went down the drain with the loss.
Rain or Shine leaned on a resurgent Paul Lee who powered his team with 20 points, including a dagger trey inside the final minute of the game to lift Rain or Shine against Alaska. Lee found his lethal form coming off an injury that sidelined him in the early goings of the conference. Jericho Cruz followed Lee’s scoring with 18 markers.
Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Import Pierre Henderson-Niles only scored six points but was able to collar 13 rebounds and had three steals for the E-Painters.
Rain or Shine only had a slim lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Both squads traded shots from long range to keep the game interesting. Knotted at 85-all after a triple by Alaska’s Chris Banchero, Rain or Shine drained seven unanswered points to have 94-87 advantage with over five minutes left in the clock.
Free throws by Noy Baclao and a basket from Dozier kept Alaska within three, 94-91. However, Lee hit a big shot from beyond the arc and Maverick Ahanmisi converted two free throws to give Rain or Shine some space, 101-94. Dozier hit a three on the other end, but free throws by Ahanmisi and a layup by Cruz sealed the game for Rain or Shine.
Cyrus Baguio supported Dozier with 14 points, while Baclao added 10. Alaska sorely missed the offensive game of Calvin Abueva who only had nine points, making four of his 13 attempts from the field.
Rain or Shine will go for a 2-0 advantage on Sunday’s Game 2.