With both teams playing without their National Team players, both coaches had to go their respective benches in hopes of finding a much needed spark. Good thing for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, this played exactly into their hands.

After trailing by double digits early in the 1st quarter, the bench was slowly eased into the game by Coach Yeng. The constant infusion of fresh legs fuelled the Elasto Painter’s defensive game, which in turn helped get their transition game going. After wrestling the lead away from the Mixers at the end of the opening quarter, the team held on to the lead until they had to will themselves through a late SMC rally to hold on for the win.

ROS was led by Arizona Reid who finished with an unconventional triple-double of 28 points, 20 rebounds and 10 turnovers, while Marqus Blakely of SMC almost finished with an identical stat line of 26 points, 20 rebounds with six turnovers.

It’s not an ideal triple-double, but we’ll take it. (Photo Credit: Nuki Sabio, pba.inquirer.net)

 How did Rain or Shine win this rematch of last year’s finals? Let’s review our keys to the game:

  1. Reintroduce Yourselves: Boy was the defense on tonight. Rodriguez, Ibanez, Arana and even Tiu were all over James Yap tonight (8 points, 1/14 from the field, 0/4 from three), while Belga, Quinahan and Reid used their bodies and fouls well as they bothered Blakely into a very inefficient night from the field (26 points on 36% shooting). The physical nature of the game clearly got into Blakely’s head as was bricking his charities throughout the game, ending up making only six out of 19 attempts.
  2. No Heroes: There were a few moments in this game where Coach Yeng thought of putting in Norwood or Chan, but he decided against it and that trust was definitely rewarded by the players. The team looked a bit disorganized to start, but it slowly got itself together and settled down on both ends of the court. The familiarity the players have with each other and the system clearly showed as they found ways to get stops and score especially during the late SMC run. Chris Tiu was a bright spot off the bench, finishing with 10 points through some timely treys in the 1st quarter and a transition basket in the closing minutes to help seal the deal.
  3. #WinFromWithin: Scoring wise, the ROS big men were not able to dominate the interior especially since Blakely turned out to be an adequate defensive force inside the paint. However, the Painters still won from within, as they were able to will themselves into winning more hustle plays, loose balls and offensive rebounds. Down the stretch, offensive rebounding became crucial as the team was able to grab a few extra points down the stretch due to second chance opportunities.

This was a good win for Rain or Shine as it was able to give Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan some rest. However, the break will be short-lived as they will take on Globalport in this Saturday’s first game. Will Chan and Norwood suit up in that one? That jury’s still out, but from what we saw today, I think Coach Yeng can afford to give those two some more rest.