Jericho Cruz catches fire from deep as ros discards Phoenix, 97-82.

Rain or Shine gets better hold of the twice to beat spot after repulsing the Fuel Masters, 97-82, in the first game of Oppo-PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City. Last season’s most improved player Jericho Cruz hit three consecutive triples down the stretch, that killed the surge that the Phoenix has begun in the fourth.

The third-year guard from Adamson finished with 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the long bomb and collared 8 rebounds. The Phoenix Fuel Masters, which registered come-from-behind wins in their last two games prior to this one, got themselves in a double-digit hole anew before getting little momentum in the fourth.

But the ‘comeback kids’ could only close to within nine midway in the final frame. Matthew Wright kept the Phoenix afloat as he tallied game-high 26 markers on top of 12 rebounds and 5 assists. But the impressive rookie couldn’t get much support in the game that could have tighten their grip in the top four.

Instead, the Ariel Vanguardia-mentored team fell to identical 4-4 record, joining the Elite in the fifth place. Newest E-Painter James Yap also had his moments in the game particularly in the first half as he totaled 10 points to help his team, which played without Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood due to injuries, to improve to 5-2 win-loss slate.

The scores :

Rain or Shine (97) : Cruz 21, Chan 12, Yap 10, Tolomia 9, Trollano 9, Washington 9, Matias 8, Ahanmisi 8, Tiu 6, Ponferada 3, Belga 2, Maiquez 0.

Phoenix (82) : Wright 26, Intal 10, J. Wilson 10, Alolino 8, Baguio 8, Borboran 7, Torres 5, Enciso 3, Hayes 3, Caperal 2, W.Wilson 0, Lanete 0.

Quarter scores : 30-20, 53-45, 78-61, 97-82.

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