It was poise down the stretch that worked wonders for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters as they overcame a tough challenge imposed by the win-hungry Phoenix Fuel Masters, 116-111, Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.
The Elasto Painters have now improved to 5-3, and have moved to a win away from entering the 2017 Governor’s Cup playoffs. The Fuel Masters, on the other hand, dropped to 2-8 and have bid goodbye to their playoff hopes.
Despite the victory, RoS head coach Caloy Garcia was not satisfied with the way his wards had played, since they had allowed Phoenix to spoil their splendid 61-point first half — marked by 11 treys — by surging back in the next half.
“I told the players that they can’t relax against Phoenix because they are loaded with scorers. Basically, at least the fourth quarter we woke up,” said Garcia. “[We’re] lucky we won the game.”
J’nathan Bullock top-billed for Rain or Shine with 33 points, with 24 coming from the first half alone, on top of eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Raymond Almazan had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds.
RoS was ahead, 102-92, with 7:10 in the payoff period, but Phoenix came back and engaged in an exchange of blows that eventually saw them cut the deficit to just three, 110-113, after Brandon Brown’s freebies with 1:09 to go.
But the Elasto Painters struck the dagger to the Fuel Masters moments later, as Gabe Norwood slammed back Almazan’s missed mid-range jumper to extend their lead to two possessions, 115-110, with 54.4 seconds remaining.
An Almazan split with ten ticks left to play, and an emphatic block of his on Brown’s shot attempt were enough to ice the game.
Norwood supplied 17 points, six boards, and three assists for Rain or Shine. Jericho Cruz added 14.
Matthew Wright, whom Garcia lauded as someone who “played like an import,” powered the skidding Phoenix with 36 markers on 61 percent shooting to go with seven rebounds. Brown supplied 33 points and 20 caroms.
Despite the loss, Phoenix still managed to shoot 50 percent from the floor. However, they only nailed seven triples — notches higher than Rain or Shine’s 17. Still, they had more rebounds, 51-48.
Rain or Shine will look to enter the playoffs against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel this Saturday, September 16, 5:15 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena, while Phoenix will face the San Miguel Beermen next Wednesday, September 20, 7:00 PM, still at the Ynares Center.
Rain or Shine 116 – Bullock 33, Almazan 25, Norwood 17, Cruz 14, Yap 9, Borboran 7, Tiu 6, Ahanmisi 5, Trollano 0, Belga 0, Matias 0.
Phoenix 111 – Wright 36, Brown 33, Jazul 9, Wilson W. 8, Kramer 8, Intal 7, Chan 6, Lanete 2, Eriobu 2, Alolino 0, Miranda 0, Dehesa 0.
Quarterscores: 24-18, 61-45, 85-84, 116-111.