The Gilas Pilipinas members of both the Phoenix Fuel Masters and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters starred in the game alongside their respective imports.
Although Matthew Wright top-scored in the game with 36 points, Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood got the last laugh as they helped their team get a 116-111 victory in the 2017 Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup, Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Norwood and Almazan grabbed a pair of crucial offensive rebounds late in the game to seal the win and officially eliminate the Fuel Masters from playoff contention.
With less than a minute left, Almazan missed on a short jumper but Norwood scored on a putback dunk to extend their lead 115-110. Phoenix had their chances on the other end but Brandon Brown only managed a split from the line and Wright missed on a baseline jumper.
Almazan grabbed the last offensive rebound of the game with 10 seconds left and then blocked a shot from Brown to make sure that Phoenix wouldn’t get a shot at pulling off a miracle.
The big man who struggled in their last game against the San Miguel Beermen was named the Best Player of the Game with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.
“Ang sama nung laro ko nung San Miguel e kaya tinrabaho ko na lang sa practice,” Almazan said. “Galing ako sa sakit kaya sa practice tumatakbo-takbo ako para bumalik yung kunidsyon.”
Norwood had 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists while Jericho Cruz had one of his best games of this conference with 14 points, four rebounds, and five assists. However, it was the shooting of their import J’Nathan Bullock that powered ROS early in the game as he finished with a PBA career-high 33 points.
“We knew we could not relax against Phoenix because they are loaded with scorers but at least in the fourth, we woke up,” said ROS head coach Caloy Garcia, whose team was outscored 39-24 in the third.
“In the first half against SMB, we just let it slip away. I told them if we do what we did against SMB in the second half, we’ll be fine.”
This was exactly what the Painters did as they jumped on the Fuel Masters in the first half to lead 61-45 heading into the break.
The Painters climbed to 5-3 to tie the TNT Katropa and San Miguel Beermen for the fourth to sixth spots while Phoenix lost their eighth straight game.
“We still have a chance in the top four but we’re thinking about Ginebra first,” added Garcia. “They’re coming off a loss so we expect Coach Tim (Cone) to bounce back and push his players against us.”
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.
Quarters: 24-18, 61-45, 85-84, 116-111.
– It was a battle between the team having the biggest scoring import in the league in Phoenix (Brown: 36.5 ppg) against the one with the lowest average in Rain or Shine (Bullock: 20 ppg). However, Bullock held Brown to a draw anchored on seven triples made in the game.
– Wright and Jericho Cruz had a prolonged trash-talking match in the second half but Almazan played peacemaker as he tried to pacify things between the two guys. “Si Jericho palaban yan, pero Matt palaban rin,” said Almazan. “Sabi ko lang kay Matt, ‘Soy-Ti, take it easy. Just play your game.”
– It was the first time Jeff Chan and Mark Borboran faced their former teams after being traded for each other. “I told our players to treat Jeff as an enemy, not as a friend,” sad Garcia. “Pero after the game, back to normal naman.”
ROS – Sept.16 versus Ginebra at the MOA Arena
Phoenix – Sept. 20 versus SMB at the Ynares Center, Antipolo