Cruz, Rain or Shine cool off Phoenix to gain solo 2nd place
Rain or Shine made a huge push in the second half as it downed Phoenix, 97-82, to gain solo second place in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jericho Cruz and Ronnie Matias teamed up in the third period to help the Elasto Painters run away with the game with their biggest lead up to 21, 66-45, thanks to a pair of freebies from Mike Tolomia with 6:37 to play.
Matthew Wright still kept the Fuel Masters fighting, getting to as close as nine, 81-72, midway in the fourth before Cruz stepped on the gas anew and drilled three straight treys to put the game away for good.
Cruz topped Rain or Shine with 21 points on a 5-of-9 shooting from threes, alongside eight rebounds, while Jeff Chan added 12 markers, three boards, and three assists.
James Yap also chipped in 10 points in the victory, which improved Rain or Shine to a 5-2 card.
“I told the players that we have to start the year with a win. If you look at the standings, the records are close and every game is important,” said coach Caloy Garcia. “Credit goes to the players because they stepped up, especially Ronnie Matias and Don Trollano.”
Despite missing the services of Raymond Almazan (left calf) and Gabe Norwood (sore eyes), the Elasto Painters still got significant contributions from their reserves, leading to 56 bench points.
Rain or Shine also dedicated the win to top supporter Margaret “Mommy” Yu, who passed away late last year.
Wright led Phoenix with 26 points, but needed 29 shots to reach that mark.
JC Intal and John Wilson had 10 markers each off the bench as the Fuel Masters dropped to joint fifth at 4-4, together with Blackwater.
RAIN OR SHINE 97 – Cruz 21, Chan 12, Yap 10, Tolomia 9, Trollano 9, Washington 9, Matias 8, Ahanmisi 8, Tiu 6, Ponferrada 3, Belga 2, Maiquez 0.
PHOENIX 82 – Wright 26, Intal 10, J. Wilson 10, Alolino 8, Baguio 8, Borboran 7, Torres 5, Enciso 3, Hayes 3, Caperal 2, W. Wilson 0, Lanete 0.
Quarters: 30-20, 53-45, 78-61, 97-82.
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