By Robert Andaya
PHOENIX Super LPG survived a late run by Rain or Shine to secure a heart-stopping 99-98 victory and notch its second win in the 2023 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Saturday.
Johnathan Williams topscored with 29 points despite a disappointing 9-of-22 performance from the free-throw line,and aside from 18 rebounds, and seven assists in the Fuel Masters’ bounce-back victory following their 92-107 blowout loss to the Magnolia Hotshots last Nov 12.
Jason Perkins finished with 14 points, Tyler Tio added 13 points, Sean Manganti contributed 10, and rookie Ken Tuffin had nine points and 13 rebounds for the Fuel Masters, who improved their record to 2-1.
Coach Jamike Jarin’s team also won against the NLEX Road Warriors,113-101, last Nov 10.
The Elasto Painters, on the other hand, remained winless in three starts.
Coach Yeng Guiao and his team dropped to 0-3 with previous defeats against Meralco, 102-107, last Nov 8 and NorthPort,103-113, last Nov 12.
The game was a rollercoaster ride for the Fuel Masters, who initially took control with a 27-16 start before falling behind in the second half. In the dying seconds, they had to muster considerable hustle to stave off the Elasto Painters.
The outcome remained uncertain until the Fuel Masters secured a crucial loose ball in a fierce battle, and Williams drew a desperate foul from Ray Nambatac with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Williams missed his free throws, but the E-Painters didn’t have enough time for one last decent attempt to salvage the game.
With former leading scorer Matthew Wright cheering from the sidelines, the Fuel Masters Held their ground after relinquishing a 13-point lead in the third quarter.
The Fuel Masters regrouped and staged a remarkable 16-0 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to regain control at 90-78.
The Elasto Painters, however, came charging back and narrowed the gap to 90-93, setting the stage for a tense finish.
At 99-92, Jhonard Clarito and Leonard Santillan made consecutive three-pointers to bring the E-Painters within one at 98-99 with still 33.2 seconds remaining.
Phoenix (99) – Williams 29, Perkins 14, Tio 13, Manganti 10, Tuffin 9, Rivero 9, Mocon 6, Alejandro 3, Jazul 3, Muyang 2, Verano 1, Daves 0, Camacho 0
Rain or Shine (98) – Santillan 17, Caracut 15, Summers 15, Belo 9, Nambatac 9, Clarito 9, Mamuyac 7, Belga 7, Demusis 4, Borboran 4, Ildefonso 2, Norwood 0
Quarterscores: 27-16, 51-49, 74-78, 99-98