Rain or Shine used a decisive third quarter run to turn what was expected to be a close and rugged match with Ginebra into a walk in the park as the Painters romped to an 82-65 win in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinal showdown in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs last night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ahead by just 10 points at the half, 39-29, the Elasto Painters unleashed a vicious 20-2 attack which turned out be like a punch thrown by Juan Manuel Marquez to Manny Pacquiao last Sunday as the Kings staggered and eventually dropped to one of their devastating playoff defeats in years.
After the pounding, the ROS Painters were already miles ahead, 59-31, with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
The Painters led by such margin, thanks to their superb shooting and rock-solid defense.
So sharp were the Painters they made 9 of their 12 tries with sophomore guard Paul Lee and Ronnie Matias scoring seven points apiece highlighted by a three-pointer.
Rookie Chris Tiu added four points and Beau Belga had two points that underscored their well-balanced attack.
The Kings were a pitiful sight as they made 1-of-11 from the field during that run by Rain or Shine.
The third quarter ended with the Painters ahead, 61-40, but that was enough for them to control the match as Jervy Cruz collected 14 points and eight rebounds, while Belga finished in double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Lee, the Rookie of the Year last season, also had 11 points and four boards in his second game this conference. He missed 18 games since dislocating his left shoulder during Game 2 of the Governors' Cup Finals last August.
It was Rain or Shine's first victory against Ginebra this conference after losing two games during the elimination round.
With the win, the Painters can finish off the series in Game 2 tomorrow. Last year, Rain or Shine swept Ginebra in a three-game duel in this same conference.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao also paid tribute to their defense, saying: "We did not expect it to be this easy but it's just the first game. We played our defense tonight the way we wanted to, everybody was active. I am just happy that the thing I feared most was our team getting outrebounded, that's our weakest department."
"Defensively, everybody did their job, rebounding wise everybody did their share. It's good we were able to take LA (Tenorio) and Mark (Caguioa) out of their rhythm. I'm sure they'll be back in the second game," added Guiao.
The Painters won the rebounding battle, 55-53.
Caguioa had 16 points to lead Ginebra but went just 4-of-13 from the field as most of his points came from the foul line where he converted 8-of-9.