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Rain or Shine fends off Alaska to bounce back in semifinals series

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The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters got their first win in their best-of-seven semifinal series with the Alaska Aces, after dismantling a second half surge from their old foes to take the
102-95 Game Two victory, Saturday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It was the Elasto Painters who had the hot start in the first quarter, forcing the Aces to five early turnovers en route to a 9-2 lead in the first five minutes of the contest. Rain or Shine
continued to control the ball game for the remainder of the quarter, eventually exiting the period with a 19-16 edge.

Rain or Shine led by as many as seven points in the early second period, but a successful four-point play from sharpshooter Dondon Hontiveros saw the Aces come within striking distance, 23-26, with seven minutes left on the clock. Gabe Norwood however easily responded with a three of his own on the other end to extend the lead anew. The Elasto Painters managed to lead by double digits for the first time with two minutes left in the period, 40-30, after a corner triple from Jonathan Uyloan. A 15-6 Rain or Shine run, however, broke out in the closing minutes of the quarter, and at the half, the Elasto Painters led by a sizeable 55-36.

Though they trailed by 20 early in the third period, the Aces finally found their much-needed spark five minutes into the quarter, trimming the lead to 13, 50-63, following a triple from JVee Casio. They later managed to come within as close eight points, 59-67, around halfway through the quarter after three successful free throws from Cyrus Baguio, but Uyloan responded on the other end with a three to push the lead back to double digits. The Aces’ managed to keep up the offensive resurgence just enough to trim the lead to single digits at the end of the quarter, 74-83.

The Aces opened the fourth period with a 6-2 rally to come within five points, 80-85, just three minutes into the quarter. Rain or Shine, however, addressed the Alaska surge, dropping another salvo bolstered by two three-pointers from Paul Lee to lead by as many as nine, 93-84, in the following three minutes. With four minutes left on the clock, the Elasto Painters led by double digits once more, 95-85.

Entering the final two minutes, Rain or Shine was on top, 97-89, but a breakaway three from Calvin Abueva with a minute and a half left on the clock gave the Aces a lease on life, trimming the
lead to five, 97-92. The Rain or Shine lead was extended by a point around the 1:17 mark, after a split free throw charity from Norwood. What followed was a couple of excellent defensive stops by the Painters and a big offensive rebound from Uyloan that kept the score unchanged with less than 30 seconds left on the clock. Two successful free throw shots from Lee pushed the lead to 100-92 with 24 ticks left in the game. Though a few more shots from the Aces in the dying seconds trimmed the score, it was the Elasto Painters who ultimately walked away with the victory.

Jervy Cruz took home Player of the Game honors following a 19-point, 12-rebound performance off the bench. Uyloan also added 18 markers to the Rain or Shine cause. Veteran Erik Menk led the Aces in scoring with 18 points off the bench.

The Elasto Painters and the Aces are now tied at 1-1 in their semifinal series, which resumes Monday night.

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