PHOENIX proved to be the steadier team when it mattered, pulling through in the clutch to squeak past pesky Blackwater, 124-120, in overtime in a thrilling duel in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
Mac Baracael had some crucial points in crunch time and finished with 21 points and five rebounds to help the Fuel Masters come out on top in their toughest game of the conference thus far.
A pivotal 6-0 run in the extra session gave the Fuel Masters the needed separation as they held a vital 117-111 lead with 2:24 remaining.
That blitz proved to be the difference maker as they were able to pull through despite Blackwater’s stubbornness.
The Elite continued to fight back, but Phoenix stood its ground in the closing seconds to earn the hard-fought win that snapped a two-game slide.
Mike Cortez’s two free throws sliced the Fuel Masters’ lead to only two, 122-120, giving the Elite some life with 27.2 seconds left.
However, RR Garcia answered with two freebies of his own to stretch it to a two-possession lead for Phoenix, allowing his team to put the game in the bag.
The victory improved the stock of Phoenix to 3-5 as it moved to 10th place. Blackwater slipped to 11th with a 3-7 card.
It was a game of spurts as both teams exchanged runs in the course of the game with Phoenix having control for most part, but with Blackwater being as pesky as possible, showing resiliency before imposing a serious threat down the stretch to set-up a thrilling finish.
The two squads went toe-to-toe in the fourth until the extension period as neither one wanted to give any ground, knowing how vital this game is to their campaign.
After regulation, the two teams ended up tied at 109-all after a back-and-forth battle in the waning minutes.
Carlo Lastimosa actually had a golden opportunity to win it for Blackwater in regulation, but he missed a potential game-winning bonus free throw after he was fouled knocking down the triple that tied the game.
With its loss, Blackwater’s fate is no longer in its hands. It needs to win its last elimination-round game and hope that the troubled teams lose theirs for the Elite to force a playoff for a slot in the Top 8.
(Philsports Arena, Pasig City):
4:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs. Phoenix
7 p.m. – NLEX vs. GlobalPort