Looking comfortable in settling the game early, Rain or Shine built a 29-point lead, lost it in the fourth but managed to hang on and clinch their third straight win in dominating the NLEX Road Warriors, 106-102 held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
From the get-go, Rain or Shine was finding their mark early and putting up the lead in the opening quarter. Paul Lee and Beau Belga’s triples gave the a quick 21-14 distance against NLEX, who struggled finding their rhythm from the field. A good start for the Painters gave them a 25-16 lead at the end of 12 minutes.
Raymond Almazan started to make his presence felt in the second quarter as his rebounds and paint presence maintained the lead his squad had. He scored six of the Painters’ first eight points of the quarter including a dunk to make it a 33-21 game. Michael Madanly struggled to find his shot, but Alexander was there for needed put-backs. However, Rain or Shine established the lead for good for the remainder of the half. Baskets by Asi Taulava and Jonas Villanueva at the middle of the quarter were quickly countered by perimeter shots by the Painters. Rain or Shine eventually ended the half up by nine.
The second half opened on two triples by Wendell McKines and Jeric Teng to once again put up a double-digit separation against the Road Warriors. This hot shooting propelled the Painters to pour on the points with all momentum gathered at that point. In addition, they limited the Road Warriors to nine quiet points in the first seven minutes. The rattled NLEX squad got stunned on the fast offensive showcase by Rain or Shine that ballooned the lead to as high as 29 during the period at 84-55. NLEX put up some free throws to salvage some points but it was all Rain or Shine during the period as the Painters ended the third frame up by 20.
After making some headway during the late stretch of the third quarter, the pick and roll plays started to work for NLEX. Their furious run quickly erased the 29-point deficit and sliced it down to 10 at 86-76, with over nine minutes to go in regulation. After a timeout called by Rain or Shine, the two imports added on the rally for NLEX via fast break scores to claw back within single digits. Two charities by McKines stopped the six minute scoring drought in the third quarter, but was quickly responded by KG Canaleta’s trifecta.
With under five minutes to go, Kwame Alexander slammed in one in the face of Almazan then John Wilson tied the game at 91 with a booming corner triple. After a series of stops, Jeff Chan and Chris Tiu accounted for their teams’ next five points to help their team reinstall the advantage. Two big late triples by Madanly opened the door for NLEX and made it a 104-102 game with 9 ticks left. Paul Lee then scored the game-sealing free throws that made it a two-possession lead.
Both teams combined for 25 made threes the entire game but NLEX shot a better 47% clip compared to Rain or Shine’s 41%. The Road Warriors also got haunted from their free throw game as they missed nine attempts in the close game. McKines led all scorers with 33 points, shot 9-of-11 from the charity stripe while also grabbing 20 rebounds.
Rain or Shine slowly regains its stride as they improved to a .500 standing at 4-4. Meanwhile, NLEX slides to a 2-6 record, only a win ahead against cellar-dealing Blackwater Elites
NLEX will next face GlobalPort on Friday, 7pm while Rain or Shine battles with the Star Hotshots, 5:15pm the next day. Both games will be played at the Big Dome.
Rain or Shine(106) – McKines 33, Lee 20, Teng 8, Almazan 8, Chan 6, Cruz 5, Tang 5, Belga 5, Araña 4, Uyloan 4, Norwood 3, Tiu 3, Cruz 2, Ibañes 0, Quiñahan 0
NLEX(102) – Madanly 20, Taulava 16, Canaleta 14, Cardona 14, Villanueva E.14, Wilson 12, Alexander 8, Raymundo 2, Ramos 2, Villanueva J.0, Borboran 0
Quarters: 25-16, 50-41, 86-66, 106-102
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