CYRUS Baguio hit a buzzer-beating bank shot to lead Alaska past a shell-shocked Rain or Shine five, 83-81, on Saturday night in a momentous PBA Commissioner’s Cup debut at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Baguio's game-winner capped a furious late fightback triggered by two gutsy plays by rookie Calvin Abueva, who, unable to score against Rain or Shine’s imposing frontline led by 7-3 import Bruno Sundov, found other ways to make a difference in the game.
The 6-1 Abueva came alive during crunch time, knocking down a cold-blooded three-pointer off an Alaska broken play to tie the score at 81-all.
And as if that was not enough, the energetic freshman out of San Sebastian added a clean block on Sundov’s attempt inside the paint, setting up Baguio for the game-clinching basket.
“We know we’re not yet 100 percent. Rain or Shine has been playing the best basketball for the past months. They (Elasto Painters) are a sharp team. But I think it’s nice to see us scratch and claw for the win,” Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said after the game.
Alaska’s import Robert Dozier was clearly outplayed on the offensive end by Sundov, but the Memphis Tigers alumnus played courageously in the second half to finish the game with 21 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
Sundov led the way for Rain or Shine with 30 points and 15 rebounds, though curiously the seven-year NBA veteran finished the game without a single shot block.
Despite the Elasto Painters' suddenly imposing frontline, the Aces managed to dominate the boards, 52-44, thanks to Abueva, whose hustle plays rewarded him with 14 boards in the end.
Other than Sundov, no other Rain or Shine player score in double figures with Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan finishing with eight points apiece.
Alaska 83 - Dozier 21, Thoss 17, Casio 11, Baguio 9, Abueva 8, Espinas 6, Ramos 5, Jazul 4, Hontiveros 2, Reyes 0, Dela Cruz 0, Belasco 0
Rain or Shine 81 - Sundov 30, Lee 8, Norwood 8, Chan 8, Tang 6, Arana 6, Matias 5, Belga 5, Cruz 2, Quinahan 2, Tiu 1, Rodriguez 0
Quarterscores: 24-23, 40-47, 66-66, 83-81