PHOENIX’S decision to change its import immediately paid dividends as it barged into the win column of the PBA Governors’ Cup with a 120-107 romp of GlobalPort on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
New Fuel Masters reinforcement Eugene Phelps proved his worth right in his debut, exploding for 52 points as he shrugged off a busted lip and a lost tooth down the stretch to lead his team to its first victory after starting the conference with three losses.
“We had good runs in the first three games, but we just couldn’t sustain the momentum. But I’m happy with how our young guys are developing,” said Fuel Masters coach Ariel Vanguardia, “Malaking bagay nandun si Willie (Wilson) at syempre yung import namin.”
Phelps, who replaced Marcus Simmons, put up a scoring output that was the highest for an import’s debut since Darius Rice dropped 56 for Purefoods in the 2008 Fiesta Conference vs San Miguel Beer, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
The Long Beach State product, who shot 18-of-30 from the field and 15-of-21 from the charity stripe, completed an all-around with 16 boards and six assists in just 38 minutes.
“Nothing against Marcus, but Phelps gave us another dimension that we can go to the post and he was dominant,” the rookie coach added as his team kept the Batang Pier winless in four outings.
Phoenix Asian import Lee Gwan Hee added 16 points, while John Wilson chipped 15 points, including eight in the final frame where the streaky shooting guard sparked the late surge.
Willie Wilson returned after being sidelined by a shoulder injury and contributed 10 points and four boards in 23 minutes off the bench.
The Fuel Masters’ combined efforts were more than to negate that of the Batang Pier’s three-headed monster of Mike Glover, Stanley Pringle, and the returning Terrence Romeo, who combined for 74 points.
PHOENIX 120 – Phelps 52, Lee 16, J. Wilson 15, W. Wilson 10, Baguio 9, Enciso 6, Pennisi 5, Lanete 4, Cruz 3, Buenafe 0, Caperal 0, Torres 0
GLOBALPORT 107 – Glover 27, Pringle 27, Romeo 20, Yeo 14, Washington 13, Dehesa 4, Mamaril 2, Isip 0, Kramer 0, Semerad 0, Taha 0
Quarterscores: 33-26, 58-53, 86-85, 120-107