Rain or Shine topples taller NLEX for first win
MANILA, Philippines – The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters did not let a low ceiling hinder them from their first win as they toppled over a much taller NLEX Road Warriors, 96-91, in the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Tuesday, February 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Against a twin tower-combo of 6-foot-8 import Al Thornton and 6-foot-9 local Asi Taulava for NLEX's frontline, Rain or Shine relied on its guards and outside shooting to balance things out as they went 10-of-30 from long range and shot a better 46% from the two-point area.
"We still had problems with their size. Even our import was having a hard time with Asi (Taulava)," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. "With Asi and Thornton giving us problems, the guards, the little guys got free for the 3-point shots."
Guard Paul Lee led the Painters with 25 points on 3-of-5 triples, all of which he buried in the first few minutes of the game, allowing Rain or Shine to build an early 15-2 advantage.
The 6-foot-9 Rick Jackson, though tall enough, still lost the battle against his counterpart offensively as he registered 17 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks.
"Our problem is really coping up with the size of other teams," said Guiao, whose team lost the rebounding battle, 55-46.
"Even with a big import, we're still struggling with the size problem. He struggled a little bit with the offense but he was there for defense and rebounds."
The lanky Raymond Almazan, who is primary support for Jackson at 6-foot-9, added 10 points and 6 boards.
The Road Warriors settled down in the second half and kept knocking on the Painters' door, eventually taking the lead briefly, 84-83, with under 5 minutes left in the game on the combined effort of Thornton and Taulava.
But Rain or Shine's guards, who incessantly fired back timely shots each time NLEX came close, stepped up one more time and countered with a 7-0 swing capped by a Gabe Norwood spin move to make it a 90-84 edge with 1:37 to play.
Thornton, who had a game-high 28 points along with 12 rebounds, put NLEX in a position to win with a jam, 94-91, with 16 seconds left.
But Lee got the foul call on Thornton and he converted two from the line to complete the win.
Rudy Lingganay finished with 19 points on 4-of-6 three-pointers, while Taulava contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds as NLEX dropped its first game of the conference.
Rain or Shine (96) - Lee 25, Jackson 17, Almazan 10, Uyloan 9, Norwood 8, Chan 8, Arana 6, Ibanes 5, Cruz 4, Tang 2, Belga 2, Tiu 0, Quinahan 0.
NLEX (91) - Thornton 28, Lingganay 19, Taulava 17, Cardona 7, Borboran 6, Ramos 6, J. Villanueva 4, Canaleta 2, E. Villanueva 2, Hermida 0, Camson 0.
Quarters: 25-18; 43-34; 73-65; 96-91