SLR 101, RoS 84

On: 07 January 2009

PBA's 34th Season

After many critics ruled them out as one of the favorites in the KFC Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) 2009 Philippine Cup, the defending champions delivered a stern message today (7 January 2009) that they are ready to go back-to-back.

Nelbert Omolon scored 26 points and Joseph Yeo came off the bench to add 26 and Sta. Lucia Realtors played near-flawless basketball from start to finish to beat Rain or Shine, 101-84, and take Game One of their best-of-three quarterfinals at the Araneta Coliseum.

In a game billed to go down the wire, it was never close. The Realtors, which has not played since 21 December 2008, was razor sharp on both ends of the floor. They countered each run of the Elasto Painters with their booming threes to take the fight as early as the third canto.

The Realtors shot 35-of-79 from the field (44 percent) to the Elasto Painters' 27-of-81 (33 percent). Omolon and Yeo combined for a 14-of-14 from the free-throw line.

For Rain or Shine, it was a forgettable postseason debut. The Elasto Painters could not keep up with the Realtors and that unraveled when star Gabe Norwood was ejected for an unsportsmanlike play in the third quarter. Sol Mercado, Ryan AraƱa and coach Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine were also given technical fouls for pushing Omolon, leaving the bench and for complaining excessively.

Yeo also received a technical foul for pushing Mercado off, but was held back by Ryan Reyes and Kelly Williams to prevent the incident from escalating further. Cooler heads also prevailed in the Elasto Painters bench after the play was resumed.

At the end of three, Sta. Lucia's lead had ballooned to 85-62. Going into the fourth, the final score was the only issue left unsettled.

The Realtors can close the series in Game Two set on Friday (9 January 2009).

Jay-R Reyes led Rain or Shine with 16 points and 12 rebounds to pick up the slack for the Elasto Painters' virtually absent rookie phenoms who were bothered all through the game by the pesky and physical defense of the Realtors.

Sol Mercado shot an atrocious two-of-10 from the field for 13 points. Norwood finished with nine points and seven rebounds. He was ejected from the court after he threw the ball at Omolon in a driving play.

Sta. Lucia center Marlou Aquino was also thrown out after he was called for a flagrant foul-2 in the first half.

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