Phoenix survived the late challenge of Rain or Shine to prevail, 114-106, and keep its winning ways going in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters dictated the pace from start to finish by leading as many as 21 points, 67-46, at the half, but encountered stiff resistance from the Elasto Painters in the fourth canto when they trimmed their double-digit deficit down to six, 110-104, with 1:53 to go.
But Encho Serrano, Tyler Tio and Du’vaughn Maxwell were there to protect Phoenix’s lead and stop Rain or Shine’s assault, until split free throws from Larry Muyang in the last nine ticks sealed the third straight win for the Fuel Masters.
The victory improved Phoenix to 4-5 in the middle standings.
Maxwell flexed his might for Phoenix with a double-double effort of 15 points and 13 rebounds on top of five steals, five blocks and four assists, but it was RR Garcia and Serrano who topscored for the squad with 17 points apiece.
Jason Perkins also shone for the Fuel Masters with 16 points and five boards, while Tio chipped in 14 markers and four assists.
The Elasto Painters played in an all-Filipino lineup after new import Jordan Tolbert reportedly exceeded the league’s 6-foot-6 height limit.
Tolbert, though, joined the team and watched from the bench as Rain or Shine skidded to its third straight defeat for 2-7.
Leonard Santillan and Norbert Torres tried to lead the Elasto Painters despite the development with 14 points each, but it was not enough to outhustle a tough Phoenix side
Beau Belga also scored 13 points, Gian Mamuyac added 10 points and Shaun Ildefonso hauled 10 rebounds apart from seven points to no avail.