IT rained three-pointers before the rainbow of triumph shone.
Four years of frustration came to a glorious end for Rain or Shine, which finally got over the hump after numerous bridesmaid finishes by dispatching a resilient Alaska side in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Catching fire from long range, the Elasto Painters finally finished off the Aces in Game Six, 109-92, on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum after failing to do so in their first two chances in the best-of-seven title series.
The E-Painters knocked down 15 three-pointers to match the record for most treys by a team in a game in the finals.
Multi-colored balloons eventually fell from the rafters as the E-Painters claimed their second league and first since the 2012 Governors’ Cup.
“Sa lahat ng naniniwala sa amin, para sa inyo po ito,” said E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao, who captured his seventh career title after playing in a finals that saw no SMC or MVP team participate for the first time in 16 years.
“When we were up three-zero, it was too good to be true and I did not expect that to happen,” he continued later on in the press room. “But when they came back three-two, medyo kinabahan na ako."
“Sabi ko, Game Six is our best chance to win it because if it goes to a Game Seven, I guess the momentum will overtake us and their confidence will be sky high and they will be very hard to defeat in a Game Seven,” the champion coach admitted.
Paul Lee typified the Elasto Painters’ hot shooting as he heated up early by scoring his team’s last 15 points in the first quarter, before saving his best for last to be named Cignal-PBA Press Corps Finals MVP.
The E-Painters thus completed a Cinderella run that saw them start the conference with three losses in their first three games and made four import changes throughout the tournament.
The heartbreak unfortunately swelled on for Aces after they finished as runners-up for the third straight time - and fourth over the last five conferences.
Motivated after a dangerous foul by Chris Banchero, Lee put on a virtuoso performance in the last two minutes of the first period where he fired 15 straight points that gave RoS a 14-point lead and set the tone for the rout.
Silent in second and third quarters, the former Rookie of the Year came through anew in the payoff period, knocking down a long stepback jumper from the left corner with a little over three minutes left that felt like the dagger that left the Aces’ improbable comeback bid in tatters.
Jericho Cruz also made a case for Finals MVP honors as he made up for Lee’s slowing down by scoring 13 points in the middle quarters. He finished with a team-high 21 points on top of five boards in 36 minutes.
Calvin Abueva willed the Aces on, pouring in 26 points and eight boards that all went for naught as the Best Player of the Conference fouled out after less than 25 minutes of play.
Kevin Racal also came into his own, scoring timely triples, including two straight that kept the Aces in the game at the half. But he committed a crucial offensive foul on Lee down the stretch that appeared to completely turn the tide in the E-Painters’ favor.
Rain or Shine 109 – Cruz 21, Lee 20, Almazan 15, Quinahan 14, Ahanmisi 8, Chan 8, Henderson-Niles 7, Norwood 7, Belga 4, Tiu 3, Ponferada 2
Alaska 92 – Abueva 26, Racal 15, Jazul 14, Dozier 11, Baguio 9, Banchero 6, Thoss 6, Hontiveros 3, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Menk 0, Dela Rosa 0
Quarterscores: 38-24, 59-49, 84-69, 109-92