Rain or Shine started the game strong, up by as many as 13 over the NLEX Road Warriors. NLEX, however, was able to battle back, even taking the lead midway through the fourth quarter. But the heroics of Paul Lee kept Rain or Shine steady, and eventually gave them the win, 96-91.
Lee earned Player of the Game honors with his 25 points on efficient 8-of-11 shooting. Richard Jackson, the Elasto Painters’ import, managed a double-double with 17 points and 20 rebounds, coupled with 5 assists and 4 blocked shots. NLEX, on the other hand, was led by former NBA player Al Thornton, who managed 28 points and 12 rebounds. Rudy Lingganay helped his team with 19 points, and veteran Asi Taulava contributed a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Rain or Shine started the game on fire, with Lee sinking back-to-back triples gave his team an early 8-2 lead. Baskets from Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan, capped by another trey from Lee, gave the Painters a 15-2 lead. Lingganay and Thornton eventually led an NLEX comeback attempt, cutting the lead to a single point, 19-18, towards the end of the period, but a Jonathan Uyloan triple and a foul on Jireh Ibanes’ three-point attempt gave RoS a comfortable 25-18 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Anyone not named Asi Taulava or Al Thornton on the NLEX squad had trouble scoring in the second quarter, so it was up to the two big men to carry the team during that period. A Beau Belga putback started the quarter for Rain or Shine, but Taulava, who was scoreless during the first canto, scored the next seven points for NLEX. Thornton joined his teammate, scoring on an and-one and cutting the deficit to three, 28-31, but back-to-back baskets by Jackson gave RoS some breathing room. During the final possession of the quarter, Lee was fouled while attempting a three. He hit all three charities, giving his team a 43-34 lead to end the first half.
Both teams traded baskets at the beginning of the third quarter, but a Jeff Chan triple put the Elasto Painters ahead by double digits, 52-41. Another run by NLEX, this time led by Thornton and Mark Borboran, was able to cut the deficit to just two points, 63-65, but back-to-back triples from Ryan Arana put Rain or Shine ahead by eight, 73-65, entering the final period.
Thornton hit his stride to start the fourth quarter. After an Aldrich Ramos jumper, Thornton scored on consecutive baskets, one on the inside and another from three-point territory, slicing the deficit to a single point, 73-72, in less than two minutes. After this hot start for the Road Warriors, both teams found difficulty scoring, as neither squad managed a point for another two minutes. Gabe Norwood was able to break the drought, making two free throws and scoring on the inside for RoS. Mac Cardona countered with back-to-back baskets and a free throw of his own to keep the gap at two, 77-79. While an Uyloan triple was nullified by one from Lingganay, another Thornton basket tied the game for NLEX at 82-82. Jackson was fouled on an attempt on the ensuing play, but he was only able to hit one of two freebies. A basket from Taulava on the inside gave NLEX the lead at 84-83. The lead was quickly extinguished by the Elasto Painters, as Lee, Uyloan, and Norwood made baskets to put RoS on top once again, 89-84. NLEX tried to regain the lead, with a triple from Lingganay and basket from Taulava, but Lee answered both with baskets of his own. A Thornton slam with 16 seconds left in the game cut the deficit to three, 91-94, but two free throws from Lee sealed the win for Rain or Shine.
Recovering from their loss to Talk ‘N Text, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters now have a 1-1 record, while the NLEX Road Warriors are 0-1 to start their tournament.
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