RAIN OR SHINE exploited Marcus Blakely’s foul trouble and turned an expected dogfight against B-Meg into a ho-hum 91-80 victory over the Llamados on Sunday night in Game One of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Painters broke the game open in the third quarter, where import Jamelle Cornley fired 13 of his 25 points while his B-Meg counterpart Blakely picked up his fifth foul with still over three minutes remaining in the quarter.
It was a rousing victory for the Painters, considering all of them, except their coach, are Finals first-timers.
“I’m proud that we were able to stand the pressure,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “Na-handle nila sarili nila sa Finals at malaking bagay ‘to sa kumpiyansa nila.”
The Llamados still led, 39-35, at halftime, before the Painters went to work in the second half. They never looked back after Cornley, who added 11 rebounds and four assists, hit a jumper early in the third that made it 42-41 in the Painters' favor.
The lead ballooned to as big as 18 halfway through the fourth after Gabe Norwood buried back-to-back triples, 83-65.
“First half we had problem sa rebounds,” Guiao admitted. “But we settled down and played well defensively in the second half.”
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Paul Lee registered 14 points, while Norwood and Ronjay Buenafe added 10 apiece for the Painters, who shot 51.5 percent from the field.
Guiao, who is three wins away from his sixth coaching title, said the three-day break was a big factor for the Painters.
“Malaking advantage yung nakapag-break kami tapos duman sila (B-Meg) sa knockout.”
The highly physical game was marred by Llamados coach Tim Cone’s ejection with over seven minutes in the fourth quarter. The multi-titled mentor was called for a flagrant misconduct after he threw a monoblock chair into midcourt with the Llamados trailing by double digits, 74-64.
Aside from a non-call on James Yap which triggered the chair-throwing incident, Cone said he was fed up with the physicality of the game.
Yap led B-Meg in scoring with 19 points on 8-of-23 shooting, to go seven rebounds, while Blakely, who eventually fouled out with 37.4 seconds remaining, wound up with 12 markers on 4-of-12 shooting on top of seven boards, five steals, and three blocks.
Marc Pingris tallied a double-double for B-Meg with 12 points and 14 boards.
The two teams meet again in Game Two on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. The game will be preceded by the Best Player and Import of the Conference awarding ceremony.
RAIN OR SHINE 91 – Cornley 25, Lee 14, Norwood 10, Buenafe 10, Belga 8, Ibañes 8, Chan 7, Araña 4, Quiñahan 4, Cruz 1
B-MEG 80 – Yap 19, Blakely 12, Pingris 12, Simon 9, Gaco 8, Barroca 6, Villanueva 5, Reavis 4, Urbiztondo 3, De Ocampo 2
Quarterscores: 18-16, 35-39, 66-59, 91-80