Air21's Asi Taulava battles for the rebound against RoS' Arizona Reid. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA (UPDATED) - Air21 held off Rain or Shine's furious comeback in the 4th quarter to carve out a 103-96 win in their PBA Governors Cup debut at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday.
The Express pounced on the shorthanded Elasto Painters and led by as much as 17 points in the third quarter.
Rain or Shine, however, whittled the deficit to just 5 points when it unleashed a rally capped by Jeff Chan’s triple, 96-101.
But Joseph Yeo sank a pair of charities to seal their first ever victory over the Elasto Painters since joining the league as the Shopinas.com Clickers 3 years ago.
Dominique Sutton paced the Express with 25 points and 10 boards.
Air21, now considered a "giant slayer" since the Commissioner’s Cup, was also supported by Asi Taulava, who came up with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
"It's a good start for us," said Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren in the league's official website. "Our mind-set right now is, we need to improve on the last conference and win as many games as possible.”"
Air21 was deadly from the perimeter, where they registered a total of 12 triples against Rain or Shine’s 5.
Aldrech Ramos, who finished with 11 points, went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, while Joseph Yeo, Mark Borboran, and Jonas Villanueva had a pair of triples each for the Express.
Pumaren said they are determined to show that they are no longer the whipping boys of the league.
“We are no longer the old Air21. We have to ensure that we’re not a flash in the pan, that we’re serious contenders now,” he said.
Arizona Reid had 20 points for Rain or Shine, who came into the court minus their coach Yeng Guiao and key players Jervy Cruz and JR Quinahan.
Air21 103 - Sutton 25, Taulava 19, Yeo 18, Ramos 11, Borboran 8, Villanueva 6, Camson 6, Jaime 4, Atkins 3, Cardona 3, Poligrates 0, Burtscher 0.
Rain or Shine 96 - Reid 20, Belga 14, Chan 12, Lee 11, Norwood 11, Nuyles 7, Ibanes 6, Arana 5, Almazan 4, Rodriguez 4, Uyloan 2, Tiu 0, Tang 0.
Quarterscores: 33-24, 62-50, 85-73, 103-96