PHOENIX gave Star false hopes of pulling off a great comeback as it added to the misery of the Hotshots with a 106-93 blowout in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters almost saw their 20-point lead almost disappear, but countered with their own run to regain command and cruise to the victory that moved them to .500 with a 4-4 win-loss card.
Eugene Phelps sustained his sizzling form, scattering 45 points and 17 boards, while Cyrus Baguio also came through when it mattered, scoring eight of his 11 points in the final frame for the Fuel Masters, who dealt the Hotshots their fifth straight loss, their longest losing streak within a conference in 11 years.
The Hotshots lost for the seventh time in eight games to fall on the brink of elimination, endangering the franchise streak of 15 consecutive playoff appearances dating back to the 2011 Commissioner's Cup.
“We have high respect for Star. They’re a grand slam team, so even if we were up by twenty, I was still scared because I knew they can come back,” Fuel Masters coach Ariel Vanguardia said. “Good thing, fourth quarter we buckled down to work and made some stops.”
In a battle between fast-paced teams, the Fuel Masters had the upper hand as they pounced on a disjointed Hotshots side to establish a 77-57 lead halfway through the third quarter.
The Hotshots, however, came back to life as they scored an impressive 19 unanswered points bridging the last two quarters, a run capped by a Joel Wright slam to pull to within a point.
Baguio, though, stopped the bleeding with a basket and capped an 11-2 run down the stretch as the Fuel Masters regained their bearings.
Wright finished with 29 points and 11 boards, while Mark Barroca and PJ Simon add 12 and 11 markers, respectively, in a losing effort for the Hotshots.
PHOENIX 106 – Phelps 45, Wilson W. 13, Baguio 11, Buenafe 11, Lee 8, Cruz 6, Lanete 4, Enciso 3, Urbiztondo 3, Miranda 2, Borboran 0, Caperal 0, Torres 0, Wilson J. 0
STAR 93 – Wright 29, Barroca 12, Simon 11, Sangalang 8, Garcia 7, Yap 7, Maliksi 5, Brondial 4, Mallari 4, Melton 2, Pascual 2, Pingris 2, Reavis 0
Quarterscores: 32-19, 56-47, 77-72, 106-93