RAIN or Shine pounced on a sluggish Petron side to cruise to a 103-95 Game One victory and gain a head start in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters simply showed more spunk from the get-go as they established an early cushion that they never relinquished en route to their ninth straight win going back to the eliminations.
“(Petron) is a powerhouse team. It was just the effort and desire of the boys that got us through,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said.
Petron has one day to regroup as Game Two of the best-of-seven series is set Wednesday, also at the MOA Arena.
Paul Lee spearheaded the fast-paced attack, scattering 14 of his 18 points in the second half when the Painters maintained a double-digit lead that grew as big as 15 points.
Beau Belga, Jervy Cruz, and Larry Rodriguez held their own against Boosters stalwart June Mar Fajardo in the absence of injured big man JR Quiñahan, while rookies Alex Nuyles and Raymond Almazan provided the spark for the Painters.
Although getting outrebounded, 55-60 by the Boosters, the Painters forced Petron to 25 turnovers that translated to 25 turnovers points.
The scoreline didn’t underscore the one-sidedness of the game as the Boosters tried to make a late comeback that saw them trim the deficit to just five points, 95-100, after a Marcio Lassiter three-pointer inside the final minute of the game.
Lee and Belga, however, provided a steady stream to keep Petron at bay.
Lassiter, Fajardo, and Arwind Santos finished with at least 20 points each, but failed to get ample support from the rest of what is supposed to be one of the deepest and strongest rosters in the league.
Rain or Shine (103) – Lee 18, Cruz 15, Belga 11, Arana 10, Nuyles 9, Almazan 7, Rodriguez 7, Norwood 7, Chan 6, Teng 6, Ibanes 5, Tiu 2, Tang 0
Petron (95) – Fajardo 23, Lassiter 20, Santos 20, Ross 8, Hubalde 6, Cabagnot 4, Lutz 4, Duncil 2, Tubid 3, Lanete 2, Kramer 2
Quarterscores: 28-20, 49-40, 76-63, 103-95