A fierce enemy game to announce his arrival in style, Rain or Shine pulled all the necessary stops for a 79-77 win against Converse on Sunday, officially kicking off the 47th season of the Philippine Basketball Association.
The Painters, temporarily for most of the competition, move into the pay-off frame and then return to their famous defense, denying the league’s newcomer FiberXers a winning debut at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cuba, Queens City.
“The way we finished the last conference, we didn’t even make it to the playoffs, it was very important for us to come out. [with a win]Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina says. “We have been able to seal this tough, decisive victory.”
“I give a lot of credit to my sons, from Beau [Belga] To Norbert [Torres] To Santi [Santillan]. They really had that man-up mentality. These guys took on the responsibility of bringing a big first win to start the season, ”he continued.
Belga hit a go-ad triple with 13.4 ticks left and then Santilan and Ray Nambatak helped with a crucial stop with four ticks left which sealed the deal for the painters.
Jeroen Teng had 23 points and Alec Stockton’s FiberXers had 13 points. RK Elagan has chipped 10 more people off the bench.
“The young team that was there was resilient tonight,” Gavina said of the team that bought Converse when Alaska broke up in 1996, 36 glorious years after the inclusion of the Grand Slam.
Rain or Shine, who is still missing sick forward Xavi Mokon, whose contract talks have stalled, appears to be getting a streak while playing Northport at the Yanares Center in Antipolo City this Thursday.
Another tough enemy
Converse, meanwhile, will next face Philippine Cup finalist Magnolia. This Friday also there is a fight between two clubs in the field on the top of the hill.
The Painters were looking at a seven-point deficit after the half mark of the fourth period and their defense looked ruined before working and Belga eliminated that triple.
Although the FiberXers lost, they could not play as newcomers because they pushed an established team like Rain or Shine to the limit.
“Their boys came up with some outstanding plays and I give my boys a lot of credit,” Gavina added.
Meanwhile, defending champions TNT and last year’s losing finalist Magnolia were still playing in press time, with Trapang Giga ending their campaign without the best rookie of the year, Mickey Williams, who has not even signed a new contract. INQ
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