Paul Lee’s swagger is back.
Lee sank a cold-blooded dagger in the dying seconds to secure a Rain or Shine Elasto Painters victory over Alaska Aces, 105-97, in Game 1 of the Oppo-PBA Commisioner’s Cup best-of-7 Finals Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gilas playmaker punched in a total of 20 markers spiked by 4-of-5 shooting from downtown, including the go-ahead triple with under a minute left for a Rain or Shine 5-point buffer, 99-94.
Jericho Cruz also shone with an all-around performance finishing with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals while Beau Belga added 15 markers and 4 boards for the Coach Yeng Guiao-led squad which is gunning for just their 2nd franchise title.
It was neck-to-neck battle with neither team leading by double digits for most of the game before Alaska faded late.
Rob Dozier’s career outing of 41 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots went down the drain as Best Player of the Conference contender Calvin Abueva was slowed down.
The Beast managed to collar 10 boards but made just 9 points while Cyrus Baguio tried to pick up the scoring cudgel with 14 for the Aces who are trying to overcome the recent Finals nightmare in the Philippine Cup.
It’s locked up in almost all of the statistics but Alaska’s 10 points off errors got hammered by 27 turnover points of the Elasto Painters.
Game 2 will be on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. — By John Bryan Ulanday