By Adrian Stewart Co
Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters sealed the No. 2 seat heading into the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs with a come-from-behind 90-88 win over Rain or Shine (RoS) Elasto Painters on Wednesday night at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Down by as much as 14 points early in the fourth, the Fuel Masters leaned on baskets from Jason Perkins, Calvin Abueva and Brian Heruela to come to within 75-80 before the Painters extended it to 82-75 on a floater by Negrense James Yap.
Phoenix pulled even closer at 81-83 on back-to-back triples by RJ Jazul but RoS widened the lead to 85-81 on two freebies by Beau Belga before the Fuel Masters surged ahead at 86-85 on a triple by Bacolodnon Justin Chua and a two-pointer by Perkins.
The Painters could not buy a basket on the other end as the Fuel Masters widened the lead to 90-85 on a layup by Abueva and two free throws by Matthew Wright with three seconds remaining.
Perkins finished the match with 30 points and eight rebounds, while Chua chipped in double-double 21 points and 10 rebounds and Wright contributed 11 markers for the Fuel Masters.
Phoenix finished the elimination tied with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings at 8-3 but dropped to No. 2 spot due to win-over-the-other rule. The Fuel Masters thus carries a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals against no. 7 Magnolia Hotshots.
Jewel Ponferrada and Javee Mocon ended up with 13 points each, while Beau Belga added 12 markers as the Painters finished at No. 8 with 6-5 record and will face the Kings, which carries a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
In the other playoffs pairings, No. 3 ranked TNT Tropang Giga (7-4) will have a twice-to-beat incentive over No. 6 Alaska Aces (7-4), while No. 4 San Miguel Beermen (7-4) also carries a twice-to-beat advantage over No. 5 Meralco Bolts (7-4).
Quarterfinals action begins tonight with Beermen taking on Bolts at 4:00 p.m. and Kings facing the Painters at 6:45 p.m. On Saturday, Tropang Giga battles Aces at 4:00 p.m. and Fuel Masters tangling with the Hotshots at 6:45 p.m.
PHOENIX 90 – Perkins 30, Chua 21, Wright 11, Abueva 7, Jazul 6, Intal 5, Garcia 3, Heruela 3, Napoles 2, Rios 2, Mallari 0, Marcelo 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 88 – Ponferrada 13, Mocon 13, Belga 12, Yap 8, Torres 7, Nambatac 7, Arana 6, Onwubere 6, Doliguez 6, Borboran 4, Rivero 2, Norwood 2, Rosales 2, Wong 0, Tolentino 0.
Quarterscores: 21-24, 46-42, 59-66, 90-88./ASC, WDJ