Rain or Shine crowned Commissioner’s Cup champs after Game 6 rout of Alaska. The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters finally clinched the 2016 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship after taking care of business against a gutsy but spent Alaska side, 109-92, in a series-clinching Game 6 on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series but struggled in closing out Alaska, which survived two consecutive elimination games.
The Elasto Painters made sure they would not survive a third as they clinched it, 4-2, to clinch the second title in the history of the Elasto Painters’ franchise and the seventh title for head coach Yeng Guiao.
Jericho Cruz scored a team-high 21 points while Paul Lee finished with 20 – doing most of his damage in an incredible two-minute span in the first quarter where he scored 15 of his total – to lead Rain or Shine.
Raymond Almazan added 15 points and JR Quinahan chipped in with 14.
Alaska star Calvin Abueva finished with 26 points and eight rebounds despite being limited to under 25 minutes of play due to foul trouble. He fouled out with 2:01 remaining in the game.
Jeff Chan made sure the game started with a bang, completing a four-point play to open scoring for Rain or Shine. Cruz and Almazan both hit three-pointers to push the Elasto Painters to a solid 12-4 start.
Alaska was able to tie the game but Rain or Shine led by four points, 23-19, before Lee exploded for an incredible shooting display late in the period.
Lee came in from off the bench and scored his first points of the game on a fastbreak layup and an extra free throw at the 2:10 mark of the quarter. He then proceeded to hit four consecutive three-pointers – spotting up, stepping back and pulling up – as he blew the game wide open all by his lonesome.
By the end of the period, he had already racked up 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting in a span of about two minutes as his Elasto Painters put 38 big points up on the board, 14 more than Aces’ 24 points.
Foul trouble got in the way of both teams’ stars. After opening the second quarter with his team’s first bucket, Lee was whistled for his third personal foul about 30 seconds into the period.
But it was Alaska that took the brunt of that. Abueva, who had been keeping the team afloat by scoring his team’s last nine points, was also called for his third foul a few minutes later. Not even the Aces’ import, Rob Dozier, was immune, following Abueva to the bench after garnering his third foul later in the period.
With both of Alaska’s main men out, Rain or Shine rolled to a 14-0 run, built around another four-point play, this time from Quinahan, and several transition baskets from Cruz. The Elasto Painters’ run extended their lead to its largest of 23 points, 56-33.
That forced Alaska coach Alex Compton to have to bring Abueva and Dozier back into the game, which drew mixed results. While the risky decision paid off in the short-term – the pair combined to score seven unanswered points straight off the bat – it proved disastrous as Abueva was caught setting an illegal pick, drawing a fourth foul while still in the first half.
Compton’s ‘magic bunot’ of the series, rookie Kevin Racal, helped keep the Aces hopes alive as he knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and Dozier closed the period with another trey as they rattled off nine unanswered points as part of a furious 16-3 Alaska finish to the first half.
The Rain or Shine lead stood at just 10 points, 59-49, at the half.
Lee led all scorers with 17 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting clip while Abueva was not far behind with 14 points and five rebounds in the first two periods.
Back-to-back baskets from Quinahan made it an 18-point game yet again, 84-66, late in the period.
Alaska made sparked some hope after Abueva completed a three-point play off a broken play to end the third period and Chris Banchero opened the fourth with his own and-one. The Aces managed to come to within 12 points, 84-72, on the free throw.
But that was before Rain or Shine unleashed a barrage of three-pointers with Maverick Ahanmisi, Chris Tiu and Cruz all bombing Alaska from the outside, turning it into a 20-point game yet again, 95-75, with nine minutes remaining.
The Aces refused to stop fighting, coming back to within 13, but some timely baskets from Beau Belga and Lee all but sealed it.
Almazan capped it with a huge dunk in the final minute.
Rain or Shine 109 — Cruz 21, Lee 20, Almazan 15, Quinahan 14, Ahanmisi 8, Chan 8, Niles 7, Norwood 7, Belga 4, Tiu 3, Ponferada 2.
Alaska 92 — Abueva 26, Racal 15, Jazul 14, Dozier 11, Baguio 9, Banchero 6, Thoss 6, Hontiveros 3, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Dela Rosa 0, Menk 0.
Quarters: 38-24; 59-49; 84-69; 109-92