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Rain or Shine reclaimed the solo lead with a masterful 93-81 win over Barako Bull in the 2011 PBA Philippine Cup Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Ronjay Buenafe unloaded 12 of his 16 points in the fourth period while rookie Paul Lee provided stability for the Elasto Painters, who extended their winning streak to five games for a league-leading 7-1 win-loss mark.

Lee topscored Rain or Shine with 17 points and together with Buenafe and Jireh Ibanez helped their team sustain the big lead as the Energy lost steam in their attempt to stage a rally.

“We came into this game prepared because we respect Barako Bull. We knew it would be a difficult game,” said Elasto Painters head coach Yeng Guiao.

“Our game plan was to play team defense. Buti na lang na-sustain namin,” he added.
Ibanes added 11 while Jervy Cruz and Ryan Arana added 10 apiece for Rain or Shine, which controlled the game early in the first period.

Willie Miller paced all scorers with 23 point including three straight three-pointers in the closing minutes that trimmed the gap to 81-90 but time was not on the side of the Energy, who dropped to 5-3 in the standings.

Rookie Dylan Ababou and Don Allado contributed 11 and 10 markers for Barako Bull, which lost head coach Junel Baculi at the 8:55 mark of the fourth period after getting his second technical foul for complaining on a non-call.

Baculi’s ejection for a while worked on the Energy as Don Allado’s jumper shoved the team within seven, 68-75 but Buenafe, Ibanes and Lee conspired for a 13-4 swing and put their lead back to 88-72 with a little over three minutes remaining.

Miller tried to ignite a run with his string of triples but time ran out to absorb just their third loss in eight games.

“It’s a fragile situation. Once you make mistakes, it could all crumble. We’re watching out na hindi kami masyado matuwa,” said Guiao.

The 7-1 salvo is already the best start of the Rain or Shine franchise since entering the league in 2006.

The scores:

RAIN OR SHINE 93 – Lee 17, Buenafe 16, Ibanes 11, Cruz 10, Arana 10, Norwood 9, Belga 6, Chan 6, Matias 4, Jaime 2, Quinahan 2.

BARAKO 81 – Miller 23, Ababou 11, Allado 10, Pennisi 9, Arboleda 7, Pena 6, Salvacion 5, Salvador 4, Najorda 2, Artadi 2, Seigle 2, Avenido 0.

Quarters: 17-14, 47-33, 67-59, 93-81

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