Phoenix ousts Rain or Shine as Phelps drops 40
Phoenix knocked off perennial semifinalist Rain or Shine, 105-94, and claimed the last quarterfinals berth in the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Eugene Phelps played with reckless abandon on his way to 40 points, 14 rebounds and six assists to lead the Fuel Masters to their first playoffs appearance.
Veterans Josh Urbiztondo, Cyrus Baguio and Willie Wilson also rose to the occasion upon their head coach Ariel Vanguardia’s challenge.
“The whole week I was hard on my veterans because I was telling them we were winning because of our rookies and our import. Cyrus was struggling, Willie was struggling and Josh,” Vanguardia said.
“I’m gonna give this to our veterans because we have to match their experience. They delivered.”
Urbiztondo led all locals in scoring with 23 points built on five 3-pointers that went with five rebounds and four assists while Baguio and Wilson combined for 17 points, 24 rebounds and nine assists to provide ample support for Phelps.
Rain or Shine battled back from 17 points down in the third quarter with back-to-back baskets from Jericho Cruz trimming the deficit to four, 87-83, with still 8:27 remaining.
But the Painters just couldn’t go all the way with the bull-strong Phelps and the gritty Fuel Masters standing in their way.
Phelps converted a three-point play for a 97-87 lead with 3:47 left and with ROS still in striking distance, rookie guard Simon Enciso blew past Painters’ import Josh Dollard for the reverse and a 102-92 buffer to put the game away.
The loss ended the Elasto Painters’ streak of consecutive playoff appearances at 12 conferences.
Dollard paced the Painters with 20 points but it was when he’s on the floor that his team looked lost. Rain or Shine got outscored by 17 points when Dollard was in the game.
Phoenix plays No. 1 TNT in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Antipolo.
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