By Dugout Philippines
QUEZON CITY--Rain or Shine took a giant steal of a win, overhauling a nine-point deficit in the last three minutes in stunning Phoenix Petroleum, 96-94, in their Holy Wednesday duel in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jeff Chan, James Yap and Shawn Taggart delivered the key baskets that saved the day for the Elasto Painters, who avoided a third straight loss and instead drew a boost heading to a brief Lenten break.
They improved to 4-2 while dropping the Fuel Masters down to 2-4.
Chan came through with the back-breaker in driving past Mark Borboron to start a three-point play that pushed the E-Painters ahead at 95-94 with time down to 7.7 seconds.
The Fuel Masters eventually blew what had looked a won ball game as JC Intal turned the ball over in their last possession.
Rain or Shine’s come-from-behind triumph was marred at endgame by a heated confrontation between Taggart and Phoenix Fuel assistant coach Nic Belasco. The proverbial cooler heads prevented the commotion from getting out of hand, though.
“It’s a good comeback win for us. At the start of the fourth quarter, I thought we’d lost the game. I told the guys if you want to win the game, it’s up to you. I was then just looking at the quotient,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.
“But they didn’t give up. James didn’t give up, Jeff didn’t give up.”
The E-Painters actually fell behind by as many as 17 in the third quarter and were still down by nine at 80-89 with 3:10 left to play.
They slowly got back into the game and found themselves within one at 90-91 on a three-pointer by Yap with still 45 seconds to go.
Yap was 0-of-5 from beyond the arc before that lethal shot.
Chan top scored with 24 points while Taggart piled up 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Jameel McKay led all scorers with 27 markers and added 18 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal, but fouled up from the line, making only three-of-nine.
To stop Rain or Shine’s running game was No. 1 on Phoenix Petroleum coach Ariel Vanguardia’s game plan. The Fuel Masters carried that out and beat the Elasto Painters on other fronts in a sudden breakaway in the third.
The Fuel Masters cut loose from a tight battle on a 21-3 salvo that shoved Phoenix to a first of a pair of 17-point spreads at 71-54.
Before the sudden Phoenix surge, the two teams engaged in seven deadlocks and 17 lead changes.
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