Rain or Shine continued their hot start to the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup as they rolled past the Alaska Aces, 85-72, in the 2019 Honda PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday evening.
Rain or Shine used a balanced attack on the undermanned Aces, who were missing the services of Vic Manuel, JVee Casio, Kevin Racal and Simon Enciso.
Rey Nambatac led 13 Rain or Shine scorers with 12 points. Beau Belga had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. The most impressive stat line, however, was Maverick Ahanmisi's eight points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
"I just wanted to provide what our team needed tonight, which was aggressiveness," Nambatac said. "We played consecutive games so we are a bit tired. But I wasn't used much in our previous games so I wanted to help my teammates who are recovering."
The Elasto Painters quickly established themselves in the game, putting up a double-digit advantage in the first quarter thanks to superior shooting. Alaska could not find its offensive rhythm and shot a dismal 22% from the field in the opening period.
In the second quarter, however, the Aces seemed to find their groove. They scored eight quick points behind back-to-back threes from Chris Exciminiano. But Rain or Shine silenced the Aces, holding them scoreless in the next seven minutes while extending their lead to 21 points.
It wasn't until the third quarter that there was some fight seen from Alaska. Their patented pressure defense finally created stops and scoring opportunities. Jeron Teng and Jake Pascual spearheaded their surge, pulling the Aces within 13.
Even in the fourth quarter, the Aces threatened to get back in the game. But the Elasto Painters had a response to most, if not all, of Alaska's attacks. Eventually, the cushion that Rain or Shine set up in the first half proved enough to fend off Alaska.
The Aces were slowed down by their early struggles from the field. Teng topscored for his team with 15 points on a forgettable 5-for-18 shooting. Jake Pascual tried to help out with 12 markers and nine boards.
The Elasto Painters did not mind playing their third game in five days as they improved to a 4-1 record.
"The consecutive games actually help us because we're able to keep our momentum and our conditioning," Nambatac added. "This should be something positive for us as our schedule gets tougher moving forward."
RAIN OR SHINE 85 - Nambatac 12, Belga 11, Almazan 10, Yap 9, Ahanmisi 8, Torres 7, Norwood 5, Mocon 5, Daquioag 4, Maiquez 4, Ponferada 4, Rosales 3, Borboran 3, Onwubere 0.
ALASKA 72 - Teng 15, Pascual 12, Banchero 11, Galliguez 9, Thoss 6, Exciminiano 6, Ayaay 6, Baclao 4, Cruz 2, Potts 1, Babilonia 0.
Quarters: 25-14, 48-30, 64-51, 85-72.
-- The Aces practiced for two weeks without Coach Alex Compton who only arrived in Manila on Saturday evening, just in time for Sunday's game.
-- Manuel is still nursing the back injury that sidelined him in Game 6 of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup Finals. Casio is also suffering from groin and foot injuries incurred in last conference's Finals. Enciso is recovering from bone spur cleaning procedure he underwent during the offseason, while Racal was held back by body pains. Only Enciso is expected to suit up soon. He will be out for 2-4 more games.
-- Rain or Shine actually had 21 turnovers compared to only 12 for Alaska. However, that was offset by the 10 more rebounds the Elasto Painters had in the game.
Rain or Shine vs NorthPort on February 8 (Friday) at the Mall of Asia Arena
Alaska vs Columbian on February 6 (Wednesday) at the Mall of Asia Arena