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NORWOOD, LEE SHINE AS ROS GAINS HEADSTART

10:46 PM February 14, 2014

RAIN or Shine ran the plays that mattered and was amply rewarded Friday.

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Gabe Norwood and Paul Lee starred in the game’s most critical plays inside the last 22 seconds, resulting in the Elasto Painters’ 83-80 victory over San Mig Super Coffee and the headstart in their PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup championship series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

As ordered, Norwood first harassed Mark Barroca into flubbing a go-ahead basket and then hooked up with Lee for the alley-oop off the glass that put Rain or Shine ahead, 82-80, time down to only 0.9 of a second.

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Lee also converted on a technical free throw after San Mig coach Tim Cone called for a timeout he didn’t have, but whatever hopes the Mixers may have had of tying the game were foiled when Norwood harassed Joe Devance from launching a shot at the buzzer.

Expectedly, the victory in the opener of the best-of-seven series pleased Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “It’s just the first game,” he stated.

Pleasing Guiao more was the way his charges ran the final offensive thrust he drew up, which had Jeff Chan as main option, to near-perfection.

“We got lucky in the end. We set up the play for Jeff but it was Paul who got open,” said Guiao. “Good recognition by Gabe.”

San Mig coach Tim Cone only has himself to blame, specifically pointing out the instance when they got possession following Jervy Cruz’s short hook for an 80-all count, 22.5 seconds left.  He called timeout in the game’s last 8.7 seconds to draw up his own offensive play.

As a result, Rain or Shine managed to set up its defense more properly, with first option James Yap hounded no end by Chan and forced Barroca to let loose a tough one-handed shot off a spin that landed way short and Lee rebounded.

“I feel really horrible. That was on me,” said Cone.

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“Coach Yeng made a brilliant play, but that game was totally on me,” Cone went on. “Our guys really played hard. They gave us a chance to win it. I blew it for them. I stepped out of character. I should have let the play go. This game is really sayang.”

Beau Belga and Jervy Cruz each finished with 15 points to lead Rain or Shine, which got off to a good start and even led by as much as 20-12 early but still found its hands full against a supposedly tired San Mig crew which was coming off a grueling seven-game semifinals series with Barangay Ginebra.

“They do not look that they’re tired,” said Guiao, whose team got engaged through nine deadlocks and 11 lead changes and even got soundly beaten off the boards, 55-44.

“They do not look that they’re tired, Coach Tim’s just doing a great job preserving his players,” added Guiao.

The Mixers were also awarded 30 free throws, half of which they converted, after the E-Painters got whistled for 26 fouls.

“There were too many free throws given to the other side. We need to avoid that the next game,” said Guiao. “I don’t know if we just got careless with fouling or just miscommunication on defense.”

Devance’s 17 points and Marc Pingris’ 13 points and 12 rebounds paced San Mig, which even led by a high of 76-70 following an 11-6 exchange that Alex Mallari capped with a mid-range jumper.

But Rain or Shine quickly recovered with Belga scoring off a feed by Larry Rodriguez and Chan knocking in back-to-back triples to make it

The second game of the matchup is set Sunday and Guiao said he expects that one to go the way of the opener.

“Game 1 is really a feeling-out game,” said Guiao. “Still, it could have gone either way.”

The scores:

RAIN OR SHINE 83 – Belga 15, Cruz 15, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 7, Arana 6, Lee 6, Tang 5, Teng 5, Almazan 4, Quinahan 2, Nuyles 2, Tiu 0, Ibanes 0.

SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 80 – Devance 17, Pingris 13, Simon 13, Yap 12, Barroca 9, Melton 6, Mallari 4, Reavis 4, Sangalang 2, De Ocampo 0.

Quarterscores: 20-15, 37-37, 60-59, 83-80

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