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Phoenix keeps flickering playoff hopes alive with OT win against Blackwater


By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Phoenix’s slowly fading chance of making the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals got a needed boost after earning a 124-120 overtime win against Blackwater at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.

The Fuel Masters blew a 14-point halftime lead banked on a second quarter rage but bounced back in extra time to repulse the Elite in a battle of teams who are now at the bubble zone as far as the playoff chase is concerned.

Phoenix fired 37 second quarter points to open a 57-43 lead after the first 24 minutes, but Blackwater rallied back in the third and tied the game, 65-all.

The Fuel Masters would still rebuilt a 13-point cushion, 88-75, late in the third, but the Elite responded with a strong fourth period attack to tie the game, 106-all, with 46.9 seconds remaining.

Despite giving Phoenix the lead back, Willy Wilson and RR Garcia could only score splits from the free throw line, opening a chance for Blackwater to force overtime.

Carlo Lastimosa then got a four-point play opportunity after making a triple while getting fouled by Garcia, but Lastimosa missed the bonus charity, giving Phoenix a chance to steal the win in regulation.

Kevin Pinkney, however, missed a quick shot with 0.5 second remaining, paving the way for the extension.

Poy Erram finally gave the Elite the lead after opening the overtime session with a short jumper, but the Fuel Masters responded with an 8-0 run to open a 117-111 cushion with 2:24 left.

Lastimosa fired five straight points to bring Blackwater to within one, 116-117, but Chico Lanete buried a dagger triple with 1:06 left as both clubs just exchanged baskets afterward.

Pinkney and Mac Baracael each made 21 points, while Josh Urbiztondo had 12 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals off the bench for Phoenix.

Lastimosa led Blackwater with 28 points and seven rebounds, while Arth Dela Cruz added 21 points, four rebounds, five assists, and four steals, and MJ Rhett and Erram each contributing 18 points.

Box Scores:

Phoenix Fuel 124-Baracael 21, Pinkney 21, Intal 19, Garcia 18, Wilson 16, Urbiztondo12, Pennisi 6, Brondial 4, Monfort 4, Lanete 3

Blackwater 120-Lastimosa 28, Dela Cruz 21, Erram 18, Rhett 18, Cortez 13, Reyes 10, Cervantes 4, Pascual 4, Gamalinda 2, Vosotros 2, Bulawan 0

Quarterscores: 20-23, 57-43, 88-77, 109-109, 124-120

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno