The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have forced a tie in their best-of-seven semifinals series against the Alaska Aces, subjecting their old foes to a 98-91 Christmas Day smack down, Thursday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The first quarter saw an intense shootout between the two squads that saw the frontcourt take charge for both teams. Powered by a couple of big baskets from Calvin Abueva and Dondon Hontiveros, the Aces were able to pull away from a 14-14 deadlock halfway through the quarter to lead by as many as seven, 21-14. The Elasto Painters however recovered in time, scoring six straight points to come within just a point of the Aces, 21-20, at the end of the period.
Helmed by an early explosion in the second period courtesy of Abueva, the Aces led by as many eight, 36-28, with less than six minutes on the clock. The Elasto Painters went on a 10-2 run to force a 38-all deadlock in the quarter, but Alaska sharpshooter JVee Casio managed to drain one in just before the clock expired to give Alaska the lead, 41-38, at the half.
As with the previous two quarters, it was the Aces who led for most of the early quarter. Powered by their explosive frontcourt, they led by as many as 11, 69-58, with around two minutes left on the clock. At the end of the third, Alaska led 71-64.
The Elasto Painters were able to come within three, 71-74, thanks to a seven-point explosion from Jeff Chan, early in the final period. Sonny Thoss, however, held the fort for the Aces, starting another run to help Alaska extend the lead by two possessions, 80-76, with around seven minutes left on the clock. A brief but effective rally that saw a trey from JR Quinahan and a split free throw charity from Chan gave Rain or Shine the deadlock, 80-all, at the 7:22 mark. A basket from Raymond Almazan and a free throw from Jonathan Uyloan a minute later gave Rain or Shine their first taste of the lead since the opening period, 83-82.
With a couple of big baskets from Gabe Norwood, Rain or Shine held on to the lead, 92-89, entering the final two minutes. The Alaska Aces suffered a serious setback when double-double machine
Abueva, the most important piece in Alaska’s campaign, was ejected after a flagrant two foul was slapped on the former Rookie of the Year for a hard smack on Rain or Shine’s Uyloan. Following a couple of free throws, the Rain or Shine lead was pushed to 96-90, with just around 20 seconds left on the clock. The Elasto Painters held on for the win.
Chan, the architect behind the Elasto Painters’ fourth quarter surge, led the scoring for Rain or Shine with 25 points. Sonny Thoss led the Aces with 25 points of his own. Calvin Abueva had 14 points before his ejection from the game late in the fourth quarter. The series resumes on Saturday evening.