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Rain Or Shine buck slow start, down Fuel Masters

Reggie Johnson had another mammoth game as Rain Or Shine keeps top spot with Saturday's win. Rick Johnsen Dela Cruz

Ricky Manliguis

MANILA—Rain Or Shine tighten its stronghold to the top spot in the standings, surviving the pesky Phoenix Fuel in a 108-106 come-from-behind  win in the first game of Petron Saturday Special of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Shrugging off a tentaive opening half, the Elasto Painters got their bearings back in the second behind Reggie Johnson, James Yap, and the team’s defensive intensity to notch its eight win in nine games and keep its place atop the team standings.

Phoenix went off to a strong opening salvo with a 29-10 outburst and kept the pace in the second quarter, many thanks to the hot shooting of import Eugene Phelps and Jeff Chan, who combined for 45 points for a 57-45 halftime lead.

But Rain Or Shine buckled up after intermission, tying the ballgame at 98-all on an Ed Daquioag layu-up on the 6:14 mark of the fourth quarter before Johnson’s back-to-back hits gave the team its first lead, 102-98.

Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul kept the Fuel Masters in the thick of things, inching closer to 106-107, and could have taken the lead in the final 20 seconds, but Phelps missed a lay-up. 

Gabe Norwood clamly sank his two free throws off a Chan foul, before Johnson foiled a Matthew Wright attempt at the horn for the final count.      

Johnson led all scorers with 32 points, 16 rebounds and with five assists, while Yap found his deadly form back to finish with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting off the bench.

Beau Belga and Raymond Almazan got 13 and 11 points, respectively. Maverick Ahanmisi scored all seven of his output in the fourth, including a three-point play with 1:15 remaining.

The Fuel Masters dropped its fourth straight game to go at 3-6 over-all. Phelps and Chan paced the Fuel Masters with 26 points each, but went quiet in the second half.
Rain Or Shine will finish off its elimination round schedule against sister teams Meralco and TNT, while Phoenix will have GlobalPort and Alaska as its last two opponents. 
The scores: 
Rain Or Shine 108 – Johnson 32, Yap 13, Belga 13, Almazan 11, Tiu 9, Daquioag 7, Ponferada 7, Ahanmisi 7, Norwood 5, Borboran 2, Nambatac 2.
Phoenix 106 – Chan 26, Phelps 26, Wright 15, Jazul 13, Kramer 11, Wilson 6, Perkins 5, Chua 4, Revilla 0, Intal 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarterscores: 17-31, 45-57, 80-85, 108-106. 

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