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Extra Rice Inc., Rain or Shine plow through Star to open Season 41

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Trailing by double-digits in the first half, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters turned it around behind the ever-reliable Extra Rice Incorporated duo of JR Quinahan and Beau Belga in the second half as they surged to a 96-87 come-from-behind victory over the Star Hotshots, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on the opening day of the newly-minted PBA season on Wednesday evening.

Star began its post-Tim Cone era in the hands of Coach Jason Webb, who led his crew in calling the shots for the first 8-2 lead of the game. Rain or Shine was plagued with seven first quarter turnovers that enabled the Hotshots to build its first double-digit spread at 23-11 behind inside buckets from comebacking Ian Sangalang and national team player Marc Pingris. Despite Beau Belga and Jeff Chan converting on triples in the early stages of the first, Star was led by James Yap as the veteran scored nine points in the first 12 minutes of action to give his team an eight point lead.

The two teams fielded in their second unit to start the second quarter of action but missed their early attempts in transition. The Painters made their run at one point, slicing the double digit lead down to three with good ball movement on their end. However, Star responded behind a productive outing from rookie Norbert Torres, who inked in five straight points as his team maintained the advantage.

The reinsertion of the backcourt tandem of James Yap and Mark Barroca paved way to help Star retain their double-digit gap against RoS. On the other end, the Painters used 11 points from the foul stripe after two quarters to slice the lead down to seven heading into the break.

As Barroca helped Star to reinstall a 10-point lead with a three pointer in the opening possession of the second half, RoS slowly chipped into the deficit with Raymond Almazan and Jeff Chan combining for the early punches. Good exchange of points ensued in the successive possessions that was capped with back-to-back hits by Jewel Ponferada to make it a 60-59 game. Coach Yeng Guiao also exhausted all available players in his roster by inserting everyone within the third frame. This paid dividends as balanced offense led to an 8-2 spurt leading to a one point game entering the final period of action.

With momentum in their side, the Elasto Painters pushed to add to their lead and continued to pounce on the Star squad. JR Quiñahan, Jericho Cruz, and Beau Belga combined for the crucial stretch of points to suddenly make it a 90-81 game with 2:34 left in the match. On the other hand, Star missed on their perimeter attempts to chop the lead, while committing pivotal turnovers late that favored ROS.

As the Painters outscored Star in the fourth 27-17, they also outrebounded the Hotshots 54-48. In addition, they also had more points in the paint 58-46 and doubled the second chance points, 12-6.

Quiñahan topped all scorers with 17 points off the bench, together with his eight rebounds, and four blocks. Jericho Cruz added 15 markers on an efficient 7/14 shooting while Almazan flirted with a double-double with his nine point and ten rebound effort.

For the losing team, Mallari, Barroca, and Yap all scored 15 points while Sangalang added 13 markers with his nine rebounds.

The Elasto Painters will look for back-to-back wins in the new season against the Mahindra Enforcers. On the other hand, Star looks for its first win against Barangay Ginebra. Both games will be played at 3:00pm and 5:15pm respectively on Sunday, October 25 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:
Rain or Shine (96) – Quiñahan 17, Cruz 15, Belga 11, Almazan 9, Norwood 9, Chan 8, Tiu 7, Ponferada 6, Ibañaz 4, Teng 4, Matias 3, Ahanmisi 3, Trollano 0.
Star (87) – Mallari 15, Barroca 15, Yap 15, Sangalang 13, Barroca 11, Pingris 8, Torres 5, Maliksi 2, Melton 2, Reavis 1, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 17-25, 40-47, 69-70, 96-87.

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