PAUL Lee continued to thrive in the games that matter most, lifting Rain or Shine to a 105-103 victory against Alaska to take a 2-0 lead in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters star was in the right place, at the right time, with an offensive rebound falling into his lap as he buried the fadeaway jumper that broke the last deadlock and spelled the biggest difference and in Game Two.
The Aces found the local production they were looking for, yet they still had no answer for Lee, who knocked down the biggest baskets down the stretch as usual as he scored 13 of his team-high-tying 17 points for the E-Painters.
“A lot of players stepped up when we needed them…and of course, Paul again, back to his old form,” E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao said of the former Rookie of the Year, who also shone brightest in their 105-97 Game One win with 20 points.
“It’s getting tougher every game and this is what we expected,” he added. “But the good thing is we have a two-zero lead.”
The E-Painters can move on the cusp of their second league title in Game Three of the best-of-seven series on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
The E-Painters looked headed for an easy win as Lee scored on a runner that put them up, 100-91, with over three minutes left, before back-to-back triples by RJ Jazul sparked a 12-3 Aces run that knotted the count at 103.
But Lee save the day for the Painters again, as he picked up an offensive rebound off a missed triple by Beau Belga and calmly launched and knocked down the game-winning jumper that beat the buzzer.
Jeff Chan heated up early to also finish with 17 points, while Jewel Ponferrada and Jericho Cruz conspired with Lee in the payoff period where Ponferrada scored half of his 14 points while the latter added four points that kept the Aces at bay.
Jazul led the Aces with 24 points, leading six locals with at least eight points each that made up for Rob Dozier being held to 18 points after erupting for 41 in the series opener.
Still, the balanced production proved insufficient.
ROS 105 – Chan 17, Lee 17, Belga 14, Cruz 14, Ponferada 14, Henderson-Niles 8, Ahanmisi 6, Quinahan 6, Almazan 3, Ibanes 2, Norwood 2, Tiu 2, Teng
ALASKA 103 – Jazul 24, Dozier 18, Abueva 14, Thoss 14, Baguio 11, Banchero 9, Hontiveros 8, Exciminiano 5, Baclao 0, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0
Quarterscores: 21-26, 49-51, 76-79, 105-103