|Petron's Doug Kramer (C) battles for the ball against Beau Belga, Ryan Arana and Paul Lee of Rain or Shine in their PBA Philippine Cup semi-final game. Photo by Nuki Sabio, PBA Images.
MANILA, Philippines -- There’s still no stopping Rain or Shine in the opener of their PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal showdown with Petron Blaze, stretching its franchise record streak to nine games on a 103-95 drubbing of the Boosters Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
It was a coast-to-coast victory for the Elasto Painters who turned the match into a virtual track meet, leaving the Boosters gasping for air.
With tremendous energy and intensity, the Elasto Painters jumped the gun on the Boosters and dominated throughout with a relentless up-tempo game.
“We want it fast. We want it in the open court,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, banking on his balanced, long rotation.
The E-Painters also did their job on the defensive end, throwing the Boosters off-balanced by keeping the pressure on the Petron ball handlers and collapsing on Junmar Fajardo each time the 6-foot-10 behemoth got possession in the blocks.
Rain or Shine led by as many as 17 in the third quarter and was hardly threatened the rest of the way, preserving a hot run dating back to the December stretch of the elimination round.
Guiao made good use of his deep bench to overcome the vaunted Petron core group of Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Doug Kramer and Alex Cabagnot.
“The desire and effort of the boys got us through against this powerhouse team,” said Guiao.
“But it’s just the first win. We need three more,” Guiao also said. “But I think we're ready to play a long series. We're ready to play at a fast, furious pace.”
The no-nonsense RoS bench chieftain rotated 13 players except JR Quinahan who was nursing an injured knee.
Paul Lee topscored with 18 points while Jervy Cruz, Beau Belga and Ryan Arana contributed 15, 11 and 10 respectively.
The E-Painters took the half at 49-40 as they forced the Boosters (averaging 15.3 errors a game) to 15 turnovers right in the first 24 minutes of play.
Rain or Shine pushed the ball hard on each Petron turnover and on its every defensive rebound, setting the tone of the match right in the get-go.
Arana, Belga, Cruz, Lee and rookie Alex Nuyles got the team to a good start, erecting an early double-digit spread at 20-10.
And as Petron waged a chase at the start of the second quarter, the RoS second group of Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Jeric Teng, Larry Rodriguez and Raymond Almazan worked on another key attack as the E-Painters regained double-digit lead midway through the second period.
Jireh Ibanes, the 13th man fielded in by Guiao, made his presence felt right away, draining a trey and a short jumper as the E-Painters made it 41-29.
For Petron, only seven players hit the scoring column in the first half, including Chico Lanete with a basket in the closing seconds.