By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
STRUGGLING teams Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters seek to break their respective two-game slides in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup when they meet today at 7 p.m. at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Lost back-to-back matches entering the contest, the Elasto Painters (1-3) and Fuel Masters (1-4) look to wiggle out of their funk and sharpen themselves up with victories as the elimination round of the season-ending PBA tournament nears the halfway point.
Rain or Shine narrowly fell to the defending champions Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 69-68, in its last game on Oct. 4.
Replacement import Kayle Locke struggled with foul trouble in his PBA debut and was limited to just 13 points, on five-of-15 shooting, and nine rebounds.
But despite that, the Elasto Painters competed and positioned themselves to win in a low-scoring affair but just could not go over the hump in the end.
Rookie Javee Mocon led Rain or Shine with 14 points and eight rebounds with Beau Belga adding nine points.
“We just did not get our rhythm. Our import is new and he was still adjusting. Hopefully after this game he has a better feel of the PBA and play better,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia of their new import who replaced Joel Wright, and what did it for them in their loss to Magnolia.
Phoenix Pulse, for its part, never really got it going in their loss to the Meralco Bolts, 111-94, last time around.
Import Eugene Phelps had a monster game of 31 points and 24 rebounds but after him no other Fuel Master had an impactful game, making it hard to keep in step with the Bolts, who were just unrelenting when they found their groove.
Making matters worse for the Fuel Masters was they saw coach Louie Alas not finish the game after being tossed out from it in the second quarter after incurring back-to-back technicals. It marked the second time in three matches that the Phoenix coach was ejected from the game.
“We’re still in the race. If we get a win on Wednesday (against Rain or Shine) we’re back on track. We just have to focus on what we can control and play our best,” said Mr. Alas as they turn their attention to their matchup against the Elasto Painters.
Meanwhile, playing in the curtain-raiser at 4:30 p.m. are the league-leading TNT KaTropa (4-0) against the sliding Northport Batang Pier (1-3).
The KaTropa have been unstoppable so far on the lead of do-it-all import KJ McDaniels, who has been solid for 34.8 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, 4.3 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
Also delivering for TNT are Jayson Castro (19.3 ppg, 7.3 apg and 2 spg), Roger Pogoy (20.8 ppg), Troy Rosario (18.3 ppg) and Don Trollano (15.3 ppg).
Northport, on the other hand, has slid considerably, losing three straight after opening the tournament with a victory.
Import Mychal Ammons is leading the Batang Pier with 21.8 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with rookie Robert Bolick providing 16 points and 6.8 assists and Mo Tautuaa 12 points and 10 boards.