Rain or Shine downs Alaska behind Norwood's clutch play
MANILA, Philippines - The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters took down the Alaska Aces, 99-89, thanks to clutch defensive plays late in the fourth quarter and a trio of critical baskets from swingman Gabe Norwood on Friday evening, February 20, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Playing without Paul Lee (swollen elbow), who’s averaging 18 PPG in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, ROS needed other guys to step up and two key cogs delivered in Norwood and Jonathan Uyloan.
“The score doesn’t really how close this game [was],” Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao said after the contest. “We survived horrible free throw shooting and we survived Paul’s absence.”
Uyloan finished with only 9 points, but his 3-pointer with 3:40 to go created a four-point separation between the Elasto Painters and the Aces, 83-79.
After Alaska cut the deficit to one, 86-85, a minute later, Norwood hit a 3-ball at the 1:56 mark to extend the lead back up to four.
The George Mason University standout then swiped the ball from new Alaska import Damion James on defense, leading to an easy breakaway layup at the other end.
After a JVee Casio slip resulted in another Aces turnover, Norwood was left open for a baseline mid-range jumper which he easily converted, putting the Elasto Painters ahead 93-85 with 1:25 left in the clock to seal the game.
Norwood finished with 14 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, while returning ROS import Wayne Chism put up 24 points, 22 rebounds, and 4 assists in his conference debut.
“It’s a good thing Wayne came in, and Wayne’s adapted to our system. He knows the guys, he knows the team, and he’s in shape. He came in and he was 100% fit,” said Guiao, whose team fielded Rick Jackson at import for their first five games.
“That helped us a lot in this game and I think Wayne’s game justifies his presence for us in this league. We weren’t mistaken bringing him back.”
James had 28 points and 16 rebounds in addition to 6 turnovers in his maiden Alaska game. Vic Manuel and Cyrus Baguio recorded 11 and 12 points, respectively.
Calvin Abueva contributed 10 markers and 10 boards in 20:29 minutes, but had to leave the game prematurely after twisting his ankle a second time in the fourth quarter following a layup over Rain or Shine big Raymond Almazan.
Abueva first twisted his ankle in the second quarter while making a spin move against Chism.
“Alaska put a lot of pressure on us and we’re lucky we survived. We made the big baskets when they really counted,” said Guiao.
“Overall, it was a good team effort for us. I just knew Paul wasn’t playing when I came in before the game. I knew he got hurt in practice yesterday but I didn’t know it was that serious,” he added, before saying that he expects Lee to return soon.
“I don’t think it’s really serious but it’s a bit swollen.”
The Aces shot only 37% from the field and allowed ROS to convert 47% of their field goals. Rain or Shine went 11-of-31 from downtown. Jeff Chan also stepped up in Lee’s absence by hitting three triples and finishing with 18 markers.
As Guiao mentioned, his team was horrible at the foul stripe where they made only 12 of 25 attempts. Alaska wasn’t much better, finishing 18-of-26.
The win improved the Elasto Painters’ record in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup to 4-2, putting them at a tie for third place in the league standings with the Purefoods Star Hotshots. They will be back in action next Friday, February 27, against the 3-2 Barako Bull Energy
Alaska fell to 2-3 and will aim a return to .500 against Barako Bull on Tuesday, February 24.
RAIN OR SHINE 99: Chism 24, Chan 18, Norwood 14, Tiu 11, Uyloan 9, Belga 9, Cruz 6, Arana 3, Almazan 3, Tang 2, Ibanes 0, Quinahan 0
ALASKA 89: James 28, Baguio 12, Manuel 11, Abueva 10, Hontiveros 9, Jazul 8, Casio 5, Exciminiano 4, Menk 2, Eman 0, Banchero 0, Espinas 0, Dela Rosa 0, Dela Cruz 0
Quarter Scores: 26-16, 48-39, 67-63, 99-89