Phoenix makes rousing PBA debut, hammers NLEX behind RR Garcia's 33 points
RR Garcia pours in a career-high 33 points to begin his Phoenix career. Jaime Campos

IF Phoenix were a guy courting a girl, it would definitely get a second date.

The Fuel Masters made a great first impression, hammering NLEX, 118-106, in their PBA debut on Wednesday in the Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

RR Garcia, in his first game back from a shoulder injury, poured in 19 of his new career-high 33 points in a third quarter surge that set the tone for the Fuel Masters’ rout of the Road Warriors.

“We talked about making history and I’m thankful for the players that they’ve given their all for this first W,” Fuel Masters coach Koy Banal said.

“It’s our first time and no one can take away this win from us,” said alternate governor Raymond Zorilla, who joined Banal in the podium.

AL Thornton, coming off a 50-point performance, was held to 27 points for NLEX, which failed to follow up an opening day win against Ginebra.

Phoenix counterpart Kenny Adeleke bucked foul trouble and poor free-throw shooting (2-of-10) to still finish with solid numbers of 18 points, 20 boards, and two blocks in 33 minutes.

Good thing Garcia played like an import. The former UAAP MVP, who dislocated his shoulder last conference, made a rousing return, duplicating Adeleke’s scoring effort in the third quarter, alone.

Garcia stayed hot in the payoff period, burying a left-wing three-pointer that gave the Fuel Masters a 111-105 lead.

Sean Anthony registered 19 points and 12 boards in a losing effort for the Road Warriors, who wasted an early lead and came no closer than nine points late in the payoff period.


The scores:

Phoenix 118 - Garcia 33, Adeleke 18, Intal 17, Baracael 15, Brondial 8, Pennisi 8, Urbiztondo 6, Wilson 6, Lanete 5, Fortuna 2, Monfort 0.

NLEX 106 - Thornton 27, Anthony 19, Taulava 18, Villanueva J. 16, Wilson 7, Borboran 5, Alas 3, Rios 3, Enciso 2, Khobuntin 2, Lanete 2, Villanueva E. 2, Reyes 0.

Quarters: 21-24, 50-47, 84-76, 118-106

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos