Paul Lee rose to the occasion to get his new team out of the tight contest against former team Rain or Shine ElastoPainters before the big crowd of Smart-Araneta Coliseum for today’s first game presentation of PBA Philippine Cup.
Star Hotshots scraped a victory at the expense of second-seeded Rain or Shine, 99-91, to gather their third straight win in five starts and move up in the team standings halfway through the elimination round.
Paul Lee, who earned new monicker as the ‘Leethal Star’, helped his team tie their victims at 3-2 win-loss card by firing away 14 markers and dishing out four dimes as he assisted hot shooting Aldrech Ramos on his pair of triples that served as the dagger to what have been a suspense battle that saw plenty of deadlocks and lead changes.
“It’s all credit to the players, they gave their best effort and they committed to our defense. I’m very proud of my players. Whatever we prepared for, we executed it today,” said coach Chito Victolero of his team as six Hotshots players delivered in double-figures.
PJ Simon was given the task to guard long time friend and former teammate James Yap and got the better of the match-up after going away with 16 points compared to Yap’s nine points as the two-time MVP from University of the East got a rude welcome from Hotshots, struggling all-night with 3/10 from the field.
Rookies Mike Tolomia and Jio Jalalon executed well for their respective teams as Tolomia led the charge for RoS in the third canto, totaling 11 points in a losing effort while Jalalon broke the last deadlock of the highly-anticipated game at 88-all via a buzzer beater, contributing an all-around effort of 14 points, six dimes, and five boards for Star.
“We tried our best for our players to not get emotional, but we know that won’t happen so we just stayed composed. We were aggressive but I think we were more composed in the final five minutes of the game,” added coach Chito.
The bigs of the RoS Almazan and Washington topscored the team after combining for 33 points and 19 rebounds that went for naught.
STAR 99 – Simon 16, Jalalon 14, Lee 14, Ramos 12, Maliksi 11, Pingris 11, Melton 6, Sangalang 6, Dela Rosa 5, Barroca 4, Reavis 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 91 – Almazan 19, Washington 14, Tolomia 11, Norwood 10, Yap 9, Ponferada 8, Ahanmisi 7, Belga 6, Cruz 5, Chan 2.
Quarters: 23-23, 42-41, 74-75, 99-91