ANTIPOLO – Blowing hot early and finding the resilience to bounce back from a lethargic stretch in the third, Rain or Shine tripped Phoenix Petroleum, 116-111, yesterday to stay in the top four hunt in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Ynares Center here.
The Elasto Painters saw an 18-point lead in the first half vanish but regrouped with aplomb when winning time came to rise to 5-3 (win-loss) and gain a momentary tie for No. 4 with San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa heading into the final two weeks of the elimination round.
Rain or Shine couldn’t afford to lose this one, as they close out against Barangay Ginebra, Alaska and souped-up Blackwater in their chase for a twice-to-beat privilege in the quarterfinals.
And coach Caloy Garcia knows that, and will be addressing the very problem that almost cost them the game against the Fuel Masters.
“We were lucky to win this game,” Garcia said after Gilas Pilipinas regulars Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood bailed the Painters out in the fourth. “We started strong, but our intensity was down in the third period.
“If we are to go further this conference, we have to see (the mistakes that we did) in the third period.”
Phoenix will not be going anywhere else in the season-closing conference after the Fuel Masters, despite getting 36 points from Matthew Wright and 31 from import Brandon Brown, lost for the eighth straight game.
With a 2-8 record, getting to the No. 8 spot is now out of reach for the Fuel Masters, who started out the conference with so much promise before original import Eugene Phelps suffered a leg injury.
J’Nathan Bullock scored the Painters’ first 17 points and finished with 33, while Almazan wound up with 25 and 11 rebounds as the 6-foot-7 center out of NCAA power Letran sustained his sharp play since returning from National team duty.
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 PETROLEUM 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.
Quarters: 24-18, 61-45, 85-84, 116-111.