MANILA, Philippines - Rain or Shine, twice dealt a stinging loss by Barangay Ginebra in the elimination round, made sure there wouldn’t be a third time last night, dominating the Kings for an 82-65 triumph in the opener of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters erased the stigma of their loss the last time out where they blew a 17-point bulge, fashioning out the emphatic victory that sent them to the threshold of the all-Filipino Final Four.
|Rain or Shine's Chris Tiu passes under pressure from Ginebra defenders in their PBA Philippine Cup quarter-final game at the Araneta Coliseum Wednesday. The Elasto Painters routed the Kings, 82-65. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
Paul Lee and Chris Tiu, who didn't see action when Rain or Shine was twice stunned by Ginebra, came through with valuable contributions as the Elasto Painters lived up to their billing as the playoffs’ third seeds, pushing the Kings to the brink of elimination.
"We didn't expect it to be easy," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, surprised of the lopsided game that saw them lead by as many as 28 points in the third quarter.
"We played the defense that we wanted. Everybody was active. Everybody did their job. Rebounding-wise, everybody did their share," said Guiao, particularly lauding his boys for their solid effort on the defensive end.
The Elasto Painters had all Ginebra players in check, including backcourt aces Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio who were held to a combined 22-point output.
Rain or Shine held the whole Ginebra team to no more than 15 points in each of the four quarters, making the biggest damage in the middle periods as the E-Painters took the half at 39-29 and broke away in the third.
The Elasto Painters opened the third quarter with a back-breaking 18-2 run and sat on a 61-40 cushion going into the payoff period.
Cyrus Baguio dished out yet another solid game and Gabby Espinas stepped up as Calvin Abueva played limited minutes due to fouls as Alaska Milk smothered Meralco, 90-84, in Game One of their own quarters duel later in the night.
Carrying over in this game the momentum of their three-game closing romp in the elims, the Aces have a chance to close out the short quarters series either Friday or Sunday.
Playing his second game in the season, Lee helped the team in their decisive surge in the second and third quarters, finishing with 11 points and four rebounds.
Tiu, another young RoS player who has just returned from an injury, had his share in their big win.
"We prepared well for this game. And leading by 10 at the half, coach Yeng told us 'no let up.' We made sure there's no repeat of our loss the last time where we bungled a 17-point lead," said Lee.
"Hopefully, we can keep playing good defense in Game Two. We play good 'D' and our offense follows," Lee also said.
"Paul (Lee) took a while to get started. When he got his rhythm, he’s able to play his old game," said Guiao of the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year awardee.
Meanwhile, elims top notcher Talk n Text and second placer San Mig Coffee take their first of two cracks at the semifinals versus No. 8 Air21 and No. 7 Petron Blaze, respectively, in Day Two of the playoffs today in the same venue.
The Tropang Texters and the Express take the floor at 5:15 p.m. then the Mixers and the Boosters at 7:30 p.m.
Working hard to get playoffs second seeding, the San Mig Coffee Mixers vow not to put their effort to waste.
"I think most would say we have the toughest road since we have to go through Petron. But we worked hard to secure our twice-to-beat seeding, so it's an opportunity we want to take advantage of," said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.
"We don't want to make this a series. We want to make the first game the only game and quickly move on," Cone added.