Rain or Shine scored a slim 98-94 win over San Miguel Beer in Game 1 of the best-of-five semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
Rookie Maverick Ahanmisi posted a career-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the field plus nine rebounds and four assists. Jeff Chan contributed 10 points including the go-ahead three-pointer in the last minute mark resulting in a 95-94 lead for RoS.
Ahanmisi nailed three of his four free throws in the dying seconds to secure his team’s triumph. San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos missed his game-tying three-pointer with only few seconds left in the game.
“It is just one of those comebacks that will linger in your memory I almost gave up on the guys but the guys did not give up on me,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao during the postgame interview.
“They proved their coach wrong as great as their import was playing, as great as June Mar was playing we pulled out a win. Everybody helped out even the guys on the bench.”
Rain or Shine’s import Pierre Henderson-Niles posted only 13 points plus nine rebounds and two steals. Guard Jericho Cruz contributed 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the field along with four rebounds and two steals also for the Elasto Painters.
San Miguel Beer’s import Tyler Wilkerson finished with a game-high 40 points and 11 rebounds while June Mar Fajardo had 23 points plus 13 rebounds and three blocks.
The reigning back-to-back Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen, who are gunning for a grand slam this year, outscored the Elasto Painters in the first quarter, 33-17.
Wilkerson, who is the leading candidate for the Best Import award with an average of 36.5 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks per game in the elimination and quarterfinals, score 20 points in the first quarter alone.
The Beermen kept their lead at halftime 50-40 but Rain or Shine opened the third quarter with renewed aggression after Gabe Norwood’s jumper early in the third period.
The Elasto Painters outscored San Miguel Beer in the third canto 32-25 to narrow the gap, 75-72, at the start of the payoff period. Rain or Shine pressed on with their attack outscoring the Beermen 26-19 in the fourth period en route to a slim win.
Today, at the same venue, elimination round top seed Meralco will face Alaska in Game 1 of the other best-of-five semifinals match.
“We are aware most people will not give us much of a chance against a very experienced Alaska team, but that’s the beauty of competition. We will show up to fight and compete. Energy and execution will be the key for us,” said the Bolts’ coach Norman Black whose wards finished the elimination round with 9-2 win-loss record.
Meralco will bank on the prowess of Arinze Onuaku, Cliff Hodge, Jared Dillinger, Chris Newsome, Baser Amer, veteran Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag in battling Alaska.
“We will have to break their pressure defense, limit turnovers, and find ways to free up Arinze,” he added. “Defensively, it will be important that we try to disrupt their motion offense as much as possible because they are a team that relies on player and ball movement.”
Alaska is coming off a back-to-back wins against Talk ‘N Text in the best-of-three quarterfinals last week. Import Rob Dozier, Calvin Abueva, Dondon Hontiveros, Cyrus Baguio, Chris Banchero, Jayvee Casio and RJ Jazul are expected to lead the Aces against Meralco.
RAIN OR SHINE 98 – Ahanmisi 23, Henderson-Niles 13, Cruz 11, Chan 10, Almazan 8, Lee 8, Norwood 8, Quinahan 7, Belga 4, Ponferada 4, Tiu 2, Ibanes 0, Nimes 0.
SAN MIGUEL 94 – Wilkerson 40, Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 15, Ross 7, Lassiter 3, Santos 3, Tubid 3, Espinas 0, Lutz 0.
Quarter Scores: 17-33, 40-50, 72-75, 98-94