By Ricky Manliguis
QUEZON CITY--In a Game 1 filled with high-octane offence, no-nonsense defence, and booming three-pointers, it was the “Lee-thal” Weapon who fired the biggest guns.
Paul Lee caught fire just in time, exploding for 20 points on four three-pointers to lift Rain or Shine to a 105-97 win over Alaska and take Game 1 of the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.
The former UE Warrior sizzled from beyond the arc in the second half, but none more important than the back-breaking three with 51.4 seconds that doused cold water on the Aces for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven titular showdown.
They also spoiled the historic night of Aces reinforcement Rob Dozier, who fired a PBA career-high 41 points and 15 rebounds.
After an 87-all standoff, JR Quiñahan and Gabe Norwood conspired to unload seven points for a 94-87 cushion with 6:16 left in the final quarter.
The Aces threatened at 94-96 on an RJ Jazul split from the line, setting the stage for Lee’s end-game heroics.
Rookie Maverick Ahanmisi then converted four charities for a 103-97 count, before Cruz put the icing on the cake with a lay-up for the final score.
Yeng Guiao’s wards blitzed early in the first quarter, erecting a 18-7 advantage courtesy of sophomore swingman Jericho Cruz’s 10 points before the Aces crawled back in the second frame before ending the half trailing 46-51.
Lee finished missing just one of his 5 trifectas, for a 7-for-12 FG clip. Cruz added 18 points along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Cyrus Baguio backed up Dozier with 14 points, 12 in the third quarter, for the Aces. Game 2 is set on Sunday also at the Big Dome.
Rain or Shine 105-Lee 20, Cruz 18, Belga 15, Norwood 11, Ahanmisi 8, Ponferada 7, Henderson-Niles 6, Almazan 4, Quinahan 4, Tiu 4, Chan 3, Ibanes 3, Trollano 2
Alaska 97-Dozier 41, Baguio 14, Baclao 10, Abueva 9, Banchero 9, Jazul 5, Dela Rosa 4, Hontiveros 3, Thoss 2, Exciminiano 0
Quarterscores: 29-25, 51-46, 74-77, 105-97
Follow the site on Twitter: @DugoutPH