MANILA, OCTOBER 4, 2011 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran (PHOTO - Talk n Text muses Nora Aunor and Venus Raj regale the crowd during the 37th PBA season opening rites. JUN MENDOZA)

SPORTS NEWS: Except for their endgame meltdown, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the second draft pick Paul Lee showed what they can do at their best in the 37th PBA season.

The Elasto Painters brandished an impressive game but wavered at the finish and barely escaped with a 94-93 nail-biter over the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the opener of the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

JC Intal missed the last of his three charities in the final 1.3 seconds then John Wilson muffed a follow-up shot as the Kings let the Elasto Painters preserve the win.

Lee, the celebrated combo guard out of University of the East, preserved his remarkable pro debut marked by game highs of 21 points and eight assists.

Its a big win for us in the first day, first game of the season. We had some jitters. Good thing, we had a good lead going into endgame, said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.

The win provided Guiao some solace after losing some things to burglars who broke into his van in Pampanga earlier in the day.

Lees performance was also a big consolation.

Hes physically tough, mentally tough. Hes special. You dont coach that. It comes from him. We really have a good pick, said Guiao after Lee.

Hes a big help really. We had a hard time breaking the zone. Its easier now with him there, Guiao added.

I just played my game. I just did what I had to do, Lee humbly said.

The 6-foot-2 guard went 7-of-9 from the field and the same clip from the stripe and also came through with five rebounds and two steals in outperforming Ginebra top gun Mark Caguioa.

Lee sparked the Rain or Shine third-quarter breakaway before the Elasto Painters slackened off at the finish.

The Kings had a chance to steal the game but Wilson missed a fall-away jumper at the buzzer.

That came after Intal, fouled while throwing a desperation three-pointer, missed the last-end of three free throws.

Intal, Wilson, Rob Labagala brought the Kings back in the game with big shots in the homestretch.

Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood and Ronjay Buenafe also finished in double figures for Rain or Shine.

Intal and Caguioa paced the Kings with 16 apiece while Jayjay Helterbrand added 11.

The scores:

Rain or Shine 94 Lee 21, Chan 18, Norwood 11, Buenafe 10, Cruz 8, Quinahan 7, Matias 6, Belga 4, Rodriguez 4, Ibanes 4, Arana 1.

Ginebra 93 Intal 16, Caguioa 16, Helterbrand 11, Tubid 8, Cortez 8, Wilson J. 6, Canaleta 6, Villanueva 6, Labagala 5, Mamaril 5, Wilson W. 4, De Ocampo 2, Cervantes 0.

Quarterscores: 20-19, 44-37, 77-62, 94-93

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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