Painters oust Fuel Masters with 116-111 win

By Nelson Beltran

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Raymond Almazan in action for Rain or Shine. | PBA Images

Games Friday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Meralco

7 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Star

MANILA, Philippines – J’Nathan Bullock and Raymond Almazan churned out personal conference-high numbers with Gabe Norwood also dishing out a stellar game as Rain or Shine eased Phoenix Petroleum out of the playoff race with a 116-111 triumph in the PBA Governors Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo Wednesday night.

Bullock sizzled with 33 points and led Rain or Shine’s torrid outside shooting to negate the huge combined 69-point explosion of Phoenix import Brandon Brown and top gun Matthew Wright.

The ROS reinforcement fired away seven 3-pointers while his local teammates put together 10 triples as against the mere seven total of Phoenix as the E-Painters rebounded from a loss to the San Miguel Beermen the last time out and thus stayed in the race for the Top Four with a 5-3 win-loss slate.

The Fuel Masters moved out of the fight for the post-elims play with an eighth straight loss after starting the tourney with back-to-back wins.

“We still have a chance (for the Top Four), but I’m thinking of Barangay Ginebra first,” said ROS coach Caloy Garcia, looking forward to their critical setto against the Gin Kings on Saturday.

“Ginebra is one of the best teams in the league and they’re the defending champions. Coming off a loss (to San Miguel), coach Tim (Cone) is likely to make the adjustments and push his players hard,” Garcia added.

The ROS bench chieftain said Almazan and his other frontline players have their job cut out for them against Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance.

Against the Fuel Masters, Garcia lauded Almazan for asserting himself and thus proving to be a big key as the E-Painters caught up with the Beermen at 5-3, still within reach of the front-runners.

Almazan dished out another big game in his return from his Gilas stint, coming through with 25 points, including emphatic jams, a three-pointer and couples of baskets from his eight offensive rebounds.

The 6-foot-7 center finished with 11 boards plus three blocks in 30 minutes of action.

Norwood also turned a solid outing with 17 markers, six boards, three assists and one steal in 33 minutes of play.

Meanwhile, Jericho Cruz, Chris Tiu, James Yap, Mark Borboran and Maverick Ahanmisi contributed timely hits to make it really tough for the Fuel Masters to keep up with only Brown and Wright carrying the offensive load for the team.

Wright delivered a game-high 36 points, including 17 in the third period fuelling Phoenix’s searing chase from a 16-point deficit, 45-61, at the half.

A 3-point play by Wright off a foul by Ahanmisi pushed Phoenix ahead at 69-67 midway through the third.

 The Elasto Painters, however, built another huge lead at 102-89 through the exploits of Almazan, Tiu, Borboran and Norwood in the fourth. And they kept the Fuel Masters at bay the rest of the way.

 The E-Painters made 17 treys on a 39-percent clip while the Fuel Masters canned in seven from 19 attempts (36 percent).

 Bullock frolicked with four triples and a total of 17 points to get ROS to a 24-18 lead in the opening quarter.

 He had had five treys and the E-Painters a total of 11 as they took the half at 61-45.

 “We started strong but our energy went down in the third quarter. If we’re to go further this conference, we have to see our mistakes in the third,” said Garcia.

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