MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Rey Nambatac bucked a poor shooting performance to hit the biggest shot of the game, and Rain or Shine escaped with an 87-83 victory over San Miguel Beer in its first game of the PBA Philippine Cup, Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Nambatac bricked his first six shots in the game before drilling an off-balance, desperation three-pointer with 12 seconds left to give the Elasto Painters an 85-81 lead.
That allowed Rain or Shine to hold off the Beermen, who rallied from a 16-point deficit in the first quarter but could not complete the comeback.
"We started pretty well," said ROS coach Caloy Garcia, whose team opened the game with 16 unanswered points. "But knowing San Miguel, they will always fight until the end."
"We got the win probably because Rey hit a big three-point shot to give us a four-point lead. Noong huli, labanan na sa three-points, and Rey hit a big shot," he added.
Nambatac finished with just four points, although he also had seven rebounds and four assists. It was sophomore forward Javee Mocon who led Rain or Shine with 25 points, tying his career-high. Mocon was one of the few players to shoot well in the game as he made seven of nine shots, while also grabbing six boards.
The Beermen, who entered the bubble with a 1-0 record, were down by just one point, 82-81, after back-to-back three-pointers from Moala Tautuaa and Terrence Romeo.
It seemed as though the defending All-Filipino champions had gotten a stop when they forced Mocon to give up the ball, but Nambatac was able to get control of the rock and drill the backbreaking three-pointer that slammed the door on the Beermen's comeback hopes.
A Romeo floater with 1.8 seconds left briefly fanned San Miguel's hopes, but Mocon coolly drained two free throws in the final seconds to peg the final score and give ROS its first win of the conference.
"The reason we won was because of our defense tonight," said Garcia as the Elasto Painters limited San Miguel to only 34.6% from the field. "It was a total team effort on the defensive end, so keeping them low gave us the win today."
Kris Rosales had 15 points, and Beau Belga scored 12 for the Elasto Painters, who grabbed the win despite shooting only 38.1% from the field in the game. But they clobbered SMB on the boards, 61-47, pouncing on the absence of June Mar Fajardo.
Marcio Lassiter had 20 points, Alex Cabagnot had 18, and Tautuaa had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds for SMB. Romeo finished with 11 points after making only five of his 16 attempts in the game.
SMB dropped to 1-1 in the conference.