ROS takes over solo second after burning Phoenix
Paul Lintag on Jan 08, 2017 06:56 PM
With Phoenix trying to mount another comeback this conference, Jericho Cruz provided insurance for Rain or Shine after firing three straight treys in the fourth quarter.
Phoenix appeared to be in the middle of another comeback Sunday against Rain or Shine, cutting a 21-point deficit by more than half with ample time to go in the fourth quarter.
However, the Fuel Masters didn't take into account Jericho Cruz suddenly going Splash Brother all over the Big Dome.
Cruz fired three straight treys in the payoff period, providing insurance for Rain or Shine as the Elasto Painters scored an impressive 97-82 victory in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup.
With the Fuel Masters gaining momentum behind rookie Matthew Wright, Cruz connected a trifecta on long-range bombs in a span of 68 seconds to turn a nine-point lead into a 90-74 cushion.
Cruz ended up with 21 points, 15 from deep, and eight rebounds off the bench, leading the Elasto Painters to their fifth win against two defeats for solo second place. Down one game against two-time defending champion San Miguel, Rain or Shine set up a mega showdown against the Beermen next week for first place.
Not playing a game since Dec. 23 of last year, Rain or Shine didn't show signs of rust one bit, scoring 30 points in the first 12 minutes to put up an early double-digit lead.
Phoenix cut the deficit to one in the middle of the second quarter before the Elasto Painters recovered and took a 53-45 lead at the break.
The game took a turn for worse for the Fuel Masters in the second half as Rain or Shine went on a big 16-0 run to establish the biggest lead of the contest at 21 points, 66-45.
Aside from Cruz, Jeff Chan and James Yap also finished in double figures for ROS, going for 12 and 10 points respectively.
"I just told the players we have to start the year with a win. If you look at the standings, every body is clogged up, from No. 2 to No. 10. So, every win is important, and ayun, credit goes to the players because last minute, the other players stepped up," head coach Caloy Garcia said.
As for Phoenix, Wright set a new career-high of 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds but couldn't lead the Fuel Masters to their third straight win. Phoenix dropped to 4-4.
RAIN OR SHINE 97 - Cruz 21, Chan 12, Yap 10, Tolomia 9, Trollano 9, Washington 9, Matias 8, Ahanmisi 8, Tiu 6, Ponferada 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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