A SMALLER Rain or Shine showed tremendous grit with its physical play, cutting a talent-laden Petron team down to size in a 102-86 victory for an auspicious Philippine Cup debut on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unfazed by the Boosters’ formidable frontline led by top rookie pick June Mar Fajardo, the Elasto Painters outgunned and simply outhustled Petron in a huge second-half effort en route to the king-sized upset.
“As I said before the game, this is the best time to play Petron because they are still in transition. They have a new coach and a new system so swerte kami at nauna namin silang makalaban,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
Rain or Shine, which is parading one of the shortest rosters in the pro league this conference, didn’t back down from Petron’s huge frontline as centers Beau Belga, Jr Quinahan, Larry Rodriguez, Ronnie Matias, and Jervy Cruz banged up Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Danny Ildefonso throughout the game.
The Elasto Painters’ four big men collared a total of 24 rebounds, an effort that drew praise from Guiao, who from the start of the game, instructed them to gang-rebound at all cost.
“I’m happy with the way the team is playing. To me I think it’s the poise and newfound confidence we had from the Finals that helped us. They are playing together…everybody made their contribution,” added Guiao, the man responsible for leading Rain or Shine to the Governors Cup last season for the franchise’s first-ever league title.
The loss marred the debuts of Petron coach Olsen Racela and the 6-10 Fajardo, who finished the game with nine points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and a bandage on his left eyebrow after a bruising loose ball scamble with Ryan Arana.
The Elasto Painters, who already missed the services of last season’s Rookie of the Year Paul Lee due to a shoulder injury, also lost Chris Tiu after the celebrated rookie injured his his hamstring in the second quarter.
They also lost Belga in the final five minutes after he was slapped a flagrant foul one. Belga had to sit out the remainder of the game due to the five-minute sit-down rule for a player slapped with a flagrant foul one.
The Elasto Painters erected their first sizeable lead late in the third canto following a basket by Cruz to make it 78-65.
But come the fourth quarter, with Rain or Shine getting slapped with three technical fouls and two flagrant fouls, Petron managed to close in at 82-88 with under six minutes to play.
The Elasto Painters, though, showed tremendous poise from there. Going after every loose ball and pushing the ball at every opportunity, Rain or Shine went on a telling 14-4 windup that doused cold water on Petron’s rally.
Jeff Chan, fresh from two international stints with Smart Gilas 2.0, led Rain or Shine with 20 points, while Cruz, Quinahan and Jireh Ibanez added 13 points apiece.
On the other hand, Joseph Yeo and Santos paced the Boosters with 16 points each.
RAIN OR SHINE (102) -- Chan 20, Cruz 13, Quinahan 13, Ibanes 13, Belga 9, Matias 8, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 6, Arana 6, Tang 3, Tiu 2, Uyloan 1.
PETRON (86) -- Yeo 16, Santos 16, Cabagnot 12, Miranda 11, Fajardo 9, Lutz 8, Washington 7, Pena 4, Mallari 3, Ildefonso 0.
Quarterscores: 23-23, 46-47, 78-68, 102-86