Mac Baracael stepped up big for the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters in scoring 21 points off the bench in a 124-120 overtime lead to keep their playoff hopes alive in the 2016 PBA Commissioners Cup tournament Wednesday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The game started with both teams exchanging points and leads. With Blackwater holding just a solitary point lead, 18-17, with 1:26 remaining in the opening stanza, Raffy Reyes drained a huge triple to break a two-minute scoring drought. Willie Wilson answered with a triple to go down by just one once more but a Reil Cervantes jumper with ten seconds left in the quarter gave Blackwater a 23-20 lead to enter the second frame.
Behind newly-acquired Kyle Pascual and import MJ Rhett, the Elite were able to gain a 29-22 lead in the early parts of the second quarter. However, Mac Baracael and Josh Urbiztondo gained the hot-hand. Baracael and Urbiztondo connected on five straight triples to give Phoenix a 39-36 lead with four minutes left in the half. Emman Monfort then joined in the three-point party to help extend the Fuel Master lead. Another rainbow by “the Fireball” and a short jumper by Wilson gave Phoenix a ten point lead, 51-41. JC Intal and RR Garcia helped close the quarter out strong for the Fuel Masters and give their team a 57-43 lead entering the break.
Slowly, the Elite were able to chip away the Phoenix lead behind the troika of Art dela Cruz, Rhett, and Reyes. A costly foul by Kevinn Pinkney on a three-point attempt by Reyes cut the lead to just two while a floater by Dela Cruz tied things up at 65-all. After getting their bearings back, Phoenix went on a 10-0 rally behind three-point shots by Wilson and Urbiztondo. The Elite could not get stops on the defensive end as the Boyet Fernandez-mentored squad held an 11 points lead, 88-77, to end the third canto.
Just like in the second quarter, the motors of Phoenix suddenly died down to start the game as Blackwater was able to cut the lead to just three, 94-91, with 7:29 left. A three-pointer by Mick Pennisi momentarily stopped the bleeding. Points became sporadic as both teams suddenly went cold from the field. With two minutes remaining in the game, a long jumper by Carlo Lastimosa followed by a costly turnover by Pinkney that led to a JP Erram basket tied the game at 104-all with 1:39 left. After a 30 second timeout by the Fuel Masters, Erram fouled Intal who converted on two free throws to give Phoenix a 106-104 lead. A putback by Lastimosa though off his own miss tied the game at 106 with 48 seconds remaining. Misses by the Elite led to them playing the foul game. Splits by Wilson and two by Garcia gave Phoenix a 109-106 lead with seven ticks remaining. After Garcia’s split, Erram went for the rebound and rushed down to their side of the court and found Lastimosa for a triple and the harm. However, the former Benilde stalwart missed the free throw to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, misses by Art dela Cruz led to baskets for Baracael, Rhett, and Wilson that gave Phoenix a 117-111 lead with 2:09 remaining. After a timeout by Coach Leo Isaac, a great find by Dela Cruz to Lastimosa ended the Blackwater drought. A 24 second infraction was then called on Phoenix that paved the way for a wide-open three by Lastimosa, his eighth of the game, that cut the lead to just one, 117-116. Chico Lanete, who was having an off night, then answered with a quick three of his own – his sole field goal of the game. A jumper by Lastimosa with 53 second remaining was answered by a jumper by Pinkney. After a foul by Monfort on Cortez that led to two free throws, Cortez fouled Garcia who converted on two freebies with nine ticks remaining to give Phoenix a 124-120 lead. A miss from downtown by Lastimosa sealed the game.
Koi Banal admitted that the pressure of being in a do-or-die game brought the team to the next level. “You won’t go wrong when you go in a do-or-die game. That extension will only bring us our character to the next level,” Banal said. “I liked the positivity of my players, they stayed positive all throughout the game.”
The Phoenix bench scored a total of 47 points, 21 coming from Baracael and Urbiztondo adding 12 – all coming from downtown. Banal was proud that they stepped up in this most crucial of games. “We needed fresh legs so I brought in (the bench) and it gave us legs to play defense,” he added.
Besides Baracael, Kevinn Pinkney scored 21 points as well and grab 16 boards. JC Intal added 19 markers on 7/11 shooting.
For Blackwater, Carlo Lastimosa had 28 points, including eight triples. Dela Cruz added 21 markers while Rhett and Erram both had double-doubles. Both had 18 points with Rhett grabbing 25 boards while Erram had 13 boards.
The Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters (3-5) will next face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Friday, April 1. Blackwater (3-7) will face the same opponent on Sunday, April 10. Both games are scheduled to be played at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Phoenix (124) – Baracael 21, Pinkney 21, Intal 19, Garcia 18, Wilson 16, Urbiztondo12, Pennisi 6, Brondial 4, Monfort 4, Lanete 3.
Blackwater (120) – Lastimosa 28, Dela Cruz 21, Erram 18, Rhett 18, Cortez 13, Reyes 10, Cervantes 4, Pascual 4, Gamalinda 2, Vosotros 2, Bulawan 0.
Quarterscores: 20-23, 57-43, 88-77, 109-109, 124-120.
Photo courtesy of PBA Images
Video courtesy of Sports5