PBA: Rain or Shine hands Phoenix its first loss of PH Cup

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2019 07:12 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2019 07:59 PM

Rain or Shine and Phoenix players battle for the rebound. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters made the big plays in the end game to claim a hard-earned 98-94 triumph over Phoenix in overtime, handing the Fuel Masters their first loss of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Five players scored in double figures for the Elasto Painters as they won their fourth game in a row to rise to solo first in the league standings with a 6-1 win-loss record.

Meanwhile, Phoenix lost for the first time after winning their first five games of the conference.

Beau Belga and Kris Rosales each scored 16 points,while Maverick Ahanmisi added 13 markers. Raymond Almazan scored 12, and Rey Nambatac had 10 points including the go-ahead lay-up with 1:33 to play in the extra period.

"Another good win for us," said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia as his team virtually clinched a spot in the playoffs of the Philippine Cup. "Phoenix came back, we had a good lead but they didn't stop."

"They fought their hearts out. We just hit the big shots in the end," he added.

The Fuel Masters recovered from a nine-point halftime deficit and knotted the count at 56 midway through the third frame, only for the Elasto Painters to score 14 unanswered points for a 70-56 advantage with less than a minute to go in the quarter. Almazan sparked the run with an and-1 and a three-pointer, while Nambatac highlighted it with a tremendous drive that drew the Rain or Shine bench off its feet.

But as Garcia noted, the Fuel Masters kept battling and behind Jason Perkins and Calvin Abueva, they steadily whittled down the lead. Abueva fed Doug Kramer for a bucket that made it a 3-point game, 83-80, only for Gabe Norwood to convert a putback slam off a Beau Belga miss to push ROS' lead to 5 points, 85-80, with 1:36 left.

Perkins responded with a lay-up of his own, but Norwood also fired up a jumper for an 87-82 count. Off a timeout, Matthew Wright connected on a three-pointer that made it a one-possession game, and Phoenix got a massive stop when Abueva blocked Norwood's jumper.

Wright and Perkins then ran a perfect two-man game that led to the reigning Rookie of the Year's game-tying bucket with 12.8 seconds left to play.

Garcia sent Rain or Shine veteran James Yap in the game for the final possession of regulation, but while he managed to get Kramer in a mismatch, Yap badly misfired on a potential game-winning triple as time expired.

"Malas si James today," Garcia later said. "Pero others stepped up."

Both teams exchanged buckets in the first 3 minutes of the extra period, with Perkins last tying the count at 92 off a triple that gave him a career-high 27 points. They had no answer for Nambatac, however, as the sophomore guard faked out his defender before zooming to the hoop to break the tie with 1:33 to go.

After two charities by Almazan with under a minute left, Phoenix last threatened when Alex Mallari scored at the rim for a 96-94 count with 35.5 ticks to go. The Fuel Masters nearly got a stop when Abueva tipped off Norwood's pass, but the Elasto Painters were able to recover the possession, and Mark Borboran iced the win with a lay-up that beat the buzzer with 12.1 seconds to play.

Phoenix's fate was sealed when Abueva bricked a triple with 3.9 seconds left, allowing the Elasto Painters to run out the clock.

"We can't be complacent," said Garcia. "Sabi ko nga sa mga players, we want to stay on top. We just have to stick together, and stick with the system."

The Elasto Painters shot 47.3% from the field, and won despite being clobbered on the boards, 61-44.

Perkins added 9 rebounds to his career-best scoring output, while Abueva and Wright finished with 16 points each. The Fuel Masters shot just 38.8% from the field, however.

The scores:

Rain or Shine 98 - Belga 16, Rosales 16, Ahanmisi 13, Almazan 12, Nambatac 10, Norwood 8, Torres 6, Borboran 5, Maiquez 4, Daquioag 4, Yap 2, Mocon 1, Ponferada 1.

Phoenix 94 - Perkins 27, Wright 16, Mallari 12, Jazul 7, Kramer 6, Mendoza 5, Marcelo 3, Napoles 2, Dennison 0, Chua 0, Revilla 0.

Quarter scores: 24-20, 45-36, 70-61, 87-87, 98-94

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