The Star Hotshots broke .500 as they notched their 3rd win in 5 games, taking down the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a tightly fought game.
Both teams were involved in a big offseason trade, sending fan favorite and face-of-the-franchise James Yap to Rain or Shine in exchange for talented, but oft-injured Paul Lee. It was the first game for each player against their former club and the familiarity was apparent from the first moment each player entered the court. From Yap giving Pingris and Simon some love to Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood yapping at each other in game.
The nostalgia though quickly gave way to a classic game of runs. After a tightly contested first quarter that ended in a draw (23-23), the Star Hotshots slowly built an 8-point lead midway through the 2nd. But Almazan, who finished with 19 points (eFG of 70%), went on a scoring run of his own, scoring 9 points in a span of 3 minutes, cutting the Star lead to 2. With the momentum on their side, the Elasto Painters were able to keep up with the Hotshots up until the break.
With the momentum clearly on their side, the Elasto Painters opened the 3rd quarter with a bang behind Gilas rookie Mike Tolomia. Behind Mike Tolomia’s patented herky-jerky attack and off-footed layups, the Elasto Painters built their largest lead in the game, 55-65. The Star’s own rookie sensation, Jio Jalalon would jumpstart his team’s lackluster offense, orchestrating a 15-5 run that would, yet again, put the score at an even 70-70.
The nip-and-tuck affair would continue all the way through the fourth, with each team making big shot after big shot. Raymond Almazan, who was amazing through out the game, made back-to-back dunks off great passes from his teammates that would electrify the crowd and his team giving Rain or Shine a 3-point lead. A James Yap split from the line gave Rain or Shine a 4-point lead with 5 minutes left in the game. But Paul Lee was having none of it. After Maliksi made 2 free throws to cut the lead to 2, Paul Lee made a basket after running the length of the court after a defensive rebound that would tie the game, for the last time (88-88). Mark Pingris, who made big defensive plays late in the game, stole the drop-off pass that would eventually lead to a clutch, running floater from Jio Jalalon with the shot clock running down. Rain or Shine would miss some makeable shots on the ensuing possession setting up what would be the dagger rainbow, delivered by Paul Lee. Coming off a timout, Rain or Shine got a good look from deep for Chan. Almazan would get the offensive rebound but was quickly denied on his attempted putback by Mark Pingris. The Elasto Painters would never recover. Final Score is 99-91.
Raymond Almazan led all scorers with 19, followed by PJ Simon with 16 (he also broke into the Top 50 PBA scoring list).