RAIN or Shine gave new Star coach Jason Webb a rude welcome as the Elasto Painters frustrated the Hotshots, 96-87, to kick off hostilities of PBA Season 41 on Wednesday night before a sparse crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite missing injured star Paul Lee, the E-Painters overcame an early deficit, took the lead midway through the second half, then pulled away down the stretch to score the win in the opener of the Philippine Cup.
“It was actually an ugly game,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao admitted. “We couldn’t get any rhythm in the first half. We just had to be patient in our execution and the patience paid off.”
JR Quiñahan provided the spark off the bench, tallying a game-high 17 points, eight boards, and four blocks, while Jericho Cruz stepped up in the absence of Lee, firing 15 points and five boards.
Beau Belga added 11 markers and five boards as he sparked the Painters’ late breakaway, while Raymond Almazan had nine points and nine boards to highlight the depth of Rain or Shine’s lineup.
The Painters fell into a 12-point hole in the first quarter, but slowly climbed out of it behind a spirited comeback in the last two quarters to prevail in the game that had been postponed due to bad weather.
“It’s a little difficult expecting to play Sunday and then being moved to a Wednesday and then adjusting to the new calls, to my rookies and new acquisitions,” Guiao said. “Ang daming adjustments, but it all resulted positively fortunately for us.”
James Yap, Alex Mallari, and Mark Barroca registered 15 points apiece, while Ian Sangalang added 13 in a losing effort for the Hotshots in their first game post the Tim Cone era.
ROS 96 – Quinahan 17, Cruz 15, Belga 11, Almazan 9, Norwood 9, Chan 8, Tiu 7, Ponferada 6, Ibanes 4, Teng 4, Ahanmisi 3, Matias 3, Trollano 0
STAR 87 – Barroca 15, Mallari 15, Yap 15, Sangalang 13, Simon 11, Pingris 8, Torres 5, Maliksi 2, Melton 2, Reavis 1, Gaco 0, Pascual J. 0
Quarterscores: 17-25, 40-47, 69-70, 96-87