THE Rain or Shine Elasto Painters made it a winning return to action for them in the PBA Philippine Cup, topping defending champions San Miguel Beermen, 87-83, on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.
One of the last teams to make their debut in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) “bubble” at Clark City, Rain or Shine got its campaign to an auspicious start by collectively holding its own against San Miguel.
The E-Painters got off to a fiery start led by sophomore Javee Mocon, sprinting to a 16-0 lead early in the first quarter.
San Miguel, however, would eventually find its footing, charging back to come within five points, 25-20, after the opening 12 minutes.
The Beermen continued with their charge to begin the second canto.
They opened with a 9-4 run to level the count at 29-all by the 6:47 mark, off a bucket from big man Mo Tautuaa.
Beau Belga and rookie Clint Doliguez then conspired for a 7-0 run for Rain or Shine in the next two minutes to give their team a 36-29 cushion.
They would use it as leverage to maintain control and take a 46-41 advantage by the halftime break.
Looking to get a firmer hold of the contest, San Miguel once again launched an aggressive push in the third quarter.
Marcio Lassiter and Mr. Tautuaa towed the Beermen to within two points, 53-51, in the first six minutes.
But like what they had been doing all game long at that point, the E-Painters would find ways to keep their opponents at bay.
Jewel Ponferrada, Sidney Onwubere and Mr. Mocon provided the baskets for Rain or Shine as they went on to take a 67-54 lead entering the final quarter.
Found themselves on the ropes, the Beermen tried to make an effort to wiggle out of it at the start of the fourth.
They would come within four points, 73-69, with 5:45 to go in the contest.
Mr. Mocon, though, provided more breathing space for his team with a triple 30 seconds later to make it a seven-point lead, 76-69.
San Miguel kept angling to sway the tide in its favor after.
The score was at 81-78 with 57 seconds remaining and the E-Painters still ahead.
Kris Rosales made it a four-point lead, 82-78, for Rain or Shine after splitting his free throws with 29 ticks left.
Off a time out, Terrence Romeo would hit a three-pointer to narrow the gap to a point, 82-81, with 27 seconds remaining.
Rain or Shine then sued for time to set up a play.
It was a timeout that bore fruit as Rey Nambatac hit a triple of his own to push the E-Painters ahead by four points, 85-81, with 12 seconds to go.
They would not relinquish the position thereafter as they moved to close out the match.
Mr. Mocon top-scored for Rain or Shine with a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds.
Mr. Rosales had 15 while Beau Belga finished with 12 for the E-Painters (1-0).
Over at San Miguel (1-1) it was Mr. Lassiter who led with 20 points, followed by Alex Cabagnot with 18.
Mr. Tautuaa had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rain or Shine-San Miguel was the fifth game to be played since the PBA returned to action for the tournament bubble which is aimed at completing at least one conference in its pandemic-hit season.
Under the bubble, the teams and the rest of the PBA contingent are holed up in Clark City for the duration of the tournament
Both the E-Painters and Beermen will return to action next on Oct. 16 against Terra Firma Dyip and TNT Tropang Giga, respectively. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo