Unassailable for 40 years until the chain was broken early this PBA season, the commanding 3-0 advantage in a best-of-7 series has returned with a vengeance and crowned another champion at the expense of the star-crossed Alaska Aces.
Rain or Shine refused to fall a third time after ascending to a 3-0 pedestal in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, vanquishing the Aces in a highly-energized Game 6 last night, 109-92, for their second franchise championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Voted Cignal-PBA Press Corps Finals MVP was Paul Lee, who was on the bench with a dislocated left shoulder when Rain or Shine won its maiden championship in the 2012 Governors’ Cup. The former University of the East star had 20 points, including four three-point shots, and his deep corner jumper with 3:20 remaining put the Elasto Painters ahead, 101-84, and was the gleaming dagger to the heart of a valiant Alaska fightback from 23 points down.
Wrapping up the series, 3-2, the E-Painters, in celebrating their first Commissioner’s Cup triumph and coach Yeng Guiao’s seventh championship overall, dealt the ill-fated Aces yet another painful defeat after losing their third straight championship and fourth in five final appearances.
It was the first time a ballclub had lost three consecutive finals since the 1980 Toyota Super Corollas.
Alaska blew a 3-0 lead over San Miguel in the previous Philippine Cup Finals, setting the stage for the Beermen’s historic comeback, and fell two wins short of claiming redemption and wiping the slate clean after averting a sweep against RoS by winning Games 4 and 5.
Sophomore Jericho Cruz, the firebrand from Adamson, led RoS with 21 points on 7 of 14 from the floor while Raymond Almazan added 15 and JR Quinahan 14 points. Calvin Abueva paced the Aces with 26 points and rookie Kevin Racal had 15. But the fancied Rob Dozier was held down to 11 on 4-of-15 shooting.
So thorough was RoS’ dominance that Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu surprised his Rain or Shine counterparts Terry Que and Raymond Yu by traversing the space between them and congratulating the pair with 1:22 left and the E-Painters ahead, 103-88.
“Para ito sa lahat ng mga naniwala at sumuporta sa’min. It took a little while, pero natapos din,” said Guiao, who joined Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone with the most number of Commissioner’s Cup titles (4) and former Gilas Pilipinas mentor Chot Reyes with at least two championships with three different teams.
Both teams shot well from beyond the arc in the first half, with RoS going 9 of 14 and Alaska 8 of 15. But the E-Painters shot better from within, with the bulk provided by their burning transition game, 15 points to 1, and were impeccable from the line, 10 out of 10.
Jeff Chan set RoS on fire from the onset, with a 4-point play after hitting a 3 as the E-Painters raced to a 12-4 run with three triples at the 9:16 mark.
RAIN OR SHINE 109 – Cruz 21, Lee 20, Almazan 15, Quinahan 14, Ahanmisi 8, Chan 8, Henderson-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, Menk 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarters: 38-24; 59-49; 84-69; 109-92