Rain or Shine's Paul Lee drives against San MIg's Mark Barroca. Photo by Mark Cristino for AS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - Paul Lee grabbed a crucial defensive rebound then converted a quick basket from an inbound in an endgame heroic, lifting Rain or Shine past San Mig Coffee, 83-80, in Game One of the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven finale at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.
San Mig Coffee actually had possession with time down to 22.5 seconds and the count tied at 80-80.
The Mixers played the clock, coach Tim Cone even calling a 30-second timeout in the last eight seconds to give instructions for a last-second shot. Alas, Mark Barroca attacked the basket too soon, leaving the Elasto Painters a chance to salvage the game with 1.6 seconds to go.
After running circle in an inbound play, Lee found himself open underneath the basket and in-bounder Gabe Norwood spotted the opening, executing a great play that gave the Elasto Painters the decisive 1-0 lead in the finals series.
“We got lucky in the end. We set up a play for Jeff Chan but it was Paul who got open. A big key was the good recognition of Gabe who threw the ball out to Paul,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“But it’s just the first game. This is the way the series will run its course – exciting games. This game could have gone either way,” Guiao also said.
Cone took responsibility for the loss, ruing the timeout he called in the last eight seconds.
“I should have let them run the play,” Cone said.
“I feel really horrible. That’s all on me. I feel bad because our guys worked so hard,” Cone added.
James Yap buried back-to-back baskets fresh from the bench as the Mixers, who trailed most of the way, seized an 80-78 lead with 34.7 ticks to go.
The Elasto Painters, however, tied the count 12 seconds later as Jervy Cruz grabbed a loose ball and made a semi-hook also coming off the bench.
Then came the winning moment that the Mixers let slip away.
“It’s really on me. And then coach Yeng made a brilliant play,” said Cone.
Cruz and Beau Belga topscored for the winning team with 15 points apiece while Lee finished with six points, counting three in the last 1.6 seconds.
After Lee’s quick basket from an inbound, San Mig called an excessive timeout in a bid to map out a play to force OT.
Lee canned in the charity for the final count as the Mixers couldn’t make a decent shot in the last .6 second.
San Mig Coffee played catch-up basketball from the opening tip before coming through with a 12-5 second-quarter closing run to pull even at 37-37 at the turn.
Ryan Araña put back his own miss then JR Quiñahan pumped in a top-of-the-key set shot as the E-Painters led by eight points in the first period at 20-12.
The E-Painters started strong with their starting unit of rookies Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng, Belga, Lee and Norwood.
And curiously, Guiao had utilized all his 14 players in the first 16 minutes of the ball game.
Rain or Shine 83 – Belga 15, Cruz 15, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 7, Araña 6, Lee 6, Tang 5, Teng 5, Almazan 4, Quiñahan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Ibañes 0.
San Mig Coffee 80 – Devance 17, Pingris 13, Simon 13, Yap 12, Barroca 9, Melton 6, Mallari 4, Reavis 4, Sangalang 2, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 20-15, 37-37, 60-59, 83-80