The playoffs seem like a long shot for for coach Johnedel Cardel and his Columbian crew. But that hasn’t stopped the Dyip from winning games in preparation for the next conference.
Unfortunately for Phoenix Pulse, it happened to be in the way.
Reden Celda and Glenn Khobuntin combined in a frenzy end-to-end play in the stretch as the Dyip stalled the Fuel Masters’ bid for an outright quarterfinals berth with a 100-98 victory in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Saturday Special at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I just told the boys that maybe we no longer have [a chance for the playoffs],” Cardel said. “But I asked them that at least in the last two games, let’s try to win [to prepare] for the next conference.”
The Dyip responded with a never-give-up fight up to the final sequences of the match, when Khobuntin chased a breakaway RJ Jazul and swatted a potential go-ahead basket that paved the way for Celda’s heroics on the other end.
Celda banked in a looper over Jason Perkins for the final count with a shade over eight seconds remaining before Columbian trapped off Phoenix’s last play at the sidelines to hike its record to 3-7.
“We only have a slim chance in making the playoffs but my teammates still gave the best they could,” CJ Perez said in a televised interview.
Perez finished with 18 points for Columbian, which got 25 points and 21 rebounds from Lester Prosper and 19 points from Rashawn McCarthy.
Richard Howell finished with monster numbers of 35 points and 23 rebounds while Matthew Wright had another sweet shooting night, scoring 23 points on a 5-for-8 clip from deep, but Columbian managed to thwart the pair from getting off a clear shot in the last possession.
“We had successful adjustments on defense,” Cardel said of the last play.
Phoenix dropped to 4-5 and will need a solid outing in its last two games to atone for Saturday’s misstep against Columbian and book a quarterfinal berth.
Rain or Shine tied Phoenix with the same record after edging Alaska in the second game, 86-84.
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