After four years of disappointment, Paul Lee and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters finally captured their second overall title with a 109-92 trouncing of the Alaska Aces in Game 6 of the best-of seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
It was Rain or Shine’s second title since joining the PBA in 2006.
The 6’2 Lee, one of the league’s top combo guards, suffered a shoulder injury four years ago. A knee injury sidelined him late last year and it took almost two months before he was able to play in the elimination round of the Commissioner’s Cup.
He posted an average of 9.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the elimination round. Lee improved his average to 14.8 points plus 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists during the best-of-seven finals against Alaska.
“Perfect comeback, perfect timing,” Lee told reporters. “Last year was very frustrating and painful because we’re almost there but we lost to Talk ‘N Text in double overtime in Game 7.”
“I just only realized the championship was ours when I saw how determined my teammates were. It was already in their body language and gestures,” added Lee, who also bagged the finals’ Most Valuable Player plum.
“About my health, I’m still observing myself and visit my doctor often. I was only 75 percent healthy this conference. I didn’t attend practice, I only watched. For my national commitment, I will visit the Gilas Pilipinas practice this week and observe what they’re doing,” said Lee.
“Hard work and sacrifice. I’m thankful to coach Yeng [Guiao]. We are tired of first runner-up finishes that’s why we did our best to bring home this championship. I used that as motivation too. This is the sweetest of all championships.”
Rain or Shine won its first title in 2012 –the Governor’s Cup crown. The Elasto Painters have a total of six finals appearances overall.
Wednesday’s win by RoS was Guiao’s seventh overall title as a coach. He won two when he was with Swift, three with Red Bull and two with Rain or Shine.
“We were just looking to be consistent all the time. Whether we have injuries or whether we lose some players, it is not the system, it is our culture,” said Guiao.
The Elasto Painters tried several imports this conference after losing Wayne Chism who was sidelined by a hamstring injury early in the elimination. The first two were Antoine Wright and Maurice Charlo. Then came Pierre Henderson-Niles that led the Elasto Painters to victory.
“I focused very well tonight and I’m really happy that we already got this championship,” said power forward Beau Belga. “This championship is worth the wait. We have a lot of chances before and it is really good we made it this time.”
The other members of the Elasto Painters are Jeff Chan, Chris Tiu, rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, Jay-R Quinahan, Jireh Ibañez, Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan and Jewel Ponferada.
In the second game, Alaska routed Barangay Ginebra 101-86. The Aces’ win-loss record improved to 3-2 while the Gin Kings’ dropped to 2-3.
Josef T. Ramos