MANILA, Philippines – The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters showed composure in the clutch, and snuck past the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 90-88, in the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, December 16.
Newly minted max player Rey Nambatac proved his worth anew for the franchise after scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second half alone, including the go-ahead, and-one bucket that gave Rain or Shine an 89-88 lead with just 22 seconds left in the game.
The former Letran standout did not stop his heroics right there, as he engaged back on defense, and swiped away the ball from Chris Banchero that ultimately led to Mark Borboran’s game-winning free throw in the end.
Beau Belga backstopped Nambatac in the nail-biting win, and churned out an all-around line of 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while import Henry Walker added 15 markers, 7 boards, and 4 dimes.
It was a game of runs well beyond the end of the third quarter, where Phoenix denied Rain or Shine’s offensive blitz to tie it up, 71-all.
Rejigged with momentum, the Fuel Masters then fired off a 10-0 run near the start of the final frame that turned a 76-77 deficit to an 86-77 lead, capped by a Banchero layup at the 8:05 mark.
Frustrated by the Phoenix run compounded with two subsequent turnovers, Walker got called for a technical foul after a brief tussle, which only spurred him to drop two straight buckets to inch within five, 81-86, at the 5:19 mark.
This was the spark the Painters needed to get right back within striking distance, as Belga capped the 9-2 comeback with a wide open trey with 1:50 left to get within two, 86-88, and set in motion their endgame heist.
“I’m so proud of these guys really battling for one another,” said head coach Chris Gavina after the game.
“One of our guys, [Javee] Mocon, was really having a bad game, but Borboran came in, and gave us excellent minutes. AD Wong [was] making strides. All the credit goes to them.”
Phoenix import Paul Harris led the heartbreaking loss with a monstrous 17-point, 20-rebound double-double with 6 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal to boot.
Banchero tallied 14 markers, 3 boards, 3 dimes, and 3 steals, while Matthew Wright slumped again with just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in 33 minutes.
Rain or Shine can make it three straight wins if they can hand the Magnolia Hotshots their first loss of the conference on Sunday, December 19, 3 pm.
Meanwhile, Phoenix aims to get back to its winning ways with a 5:30 pm match that same day against the newly-returned Justin Brownlee and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Rain or Shine 90 – Nambatac 17, Belga 16, Walker 15, Santillan 13, Borboran 8, Mocon 6, Wong 6, Caracut 4, Norwood 3, Ponferrada 2, Jackson 0, Torres 0.
Phoenix 88 – Harris 17, Banchero 14, Manganti 11, Wright 10, Perkins 8, Melecio 8, Jazul 8, Rios 6, Garcia 4, Camacho 2, Muyang 0, Chua 0.
Quarters: 16-23, 44-50, 71-71, 90-88.