Ominous surge for Elasto Painters
Phoenix Pulse showed its rise to the top was no fluke, but Rain or Shine came up with an even more ominous performance by grabbing the PBA Philippine Cup solo lead with little help from its biggest star Sunday.
James Yap, the two-time PBA Most Valuable Player, who was averaging 16 points as the ROS’ sharpest player so far, scored only two points, but that did not stop the Elasto Painters from nipping the Fuel Masters, 98-94, in overtime.
Gabe Norwood, Mark Borboran, Beau Belga, Ray Almazan, Maverick Ahanmisi and Kris Rosales took turns in turning back the Fuel Masters, who fought back from 14 points to forge the extension at 87-all before going down to their first loss in five games.
The Elasto Painters, still to win the tournament for the first time, moved on top with a 6-1 record that included earlier wins over defending champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska.
The new leader and Phoenix both walked the tightrope in their last outing before disputing the lead going into the last doubleheader prior to the scheduled break from Feb. 14 designed to prepare the Philippine team for the final window of the Fiba World Cup qualifier.
Phoenix struggled against an NLEX squad missing ace guard Kevin Alas, who had reinjured his right knee, before escaping with an 83-82 decision Friday. Rain or Shine then needed a strong finish in the second game to turn back NorthPort, 107-100.
The Road Warriors, who rallied from an early 17-point deficit, had a chance to turn the game around but Calvin Abueva blocked the potential winning attempt of Bong Galanza as time expired to send NLEX to a fourth loss in six games.
Stanley Pringle unloaded 34 points for NorthPort and Sean Anthony added 22 but the Batang Pier collapsed in the fourth quarter with only 11 points and absorbed a second straight loss in four matches as the Elasto Painters scored 28 after trailing by 10 in the third period, 79-89.
Ginebra moved up to third with a 3-2 slate after another romp at the expense of Blackwater, 85-67, in Davao del Sur Saturday even as the TNT improved to 3-3 like defending champion San Miguel Beer by spoiling the debut of 2018 Governors’ Cup champion Magnolia, 80-75, in overtime.
Alaska, the 2018 Governors’ Cup runner-up, also blew its opening assignment against Rain or Shine, 85-72, butbounced back with a 94-72 rout of Columbian, which fell into a tie with NLEX.