PHOENIX turned to former Alaska players before Eugene Phelps brought the Fuel Masters home with a 95-93 squeaker over the Aces to sustain their strong start in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Phelps, despite nursing a flu for a few days already, hit the game-winning layup with his non-shooting hand that negated Chris Banchero’s tough tip-in that knotted the count in the previous play.
The go-ahead basket came after former Aces playmaker RJ Jazul proved to be a thorn in the side of his former team, firing a triple that momentarily put the Fuel Masters up, 93-91, before Banchero retaliated with his basket in the next play.
As a result, the Fuel Masters registered a second straight win as they dealt the Aces their second defeat in as many games – and 10th straight dating back to last conference.
“Our vets delivered today. They showed heart and made the crucial plays,” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said. “It was like a playoff game.”
“We give credit to Alaska. They really make us play better,” he added as the Fuel Masters claimed a piece of the early lead with the day’s earlier winner, NLEX.
Phelps registered 29 points, 14 boards, and two assists in 41 minutes, while Jazul finished with 15 points, built around four triples, along with five rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 37 minutes.
Joseph Eriobu continued his breakout play, tallying 14 points, 11 boards, and one block, while John Wilson added 13 points and four caroms. Cyrus Baguio, another former Alaska player, chipped in five points in the second half.
Buck Henton led the Aces with 30 points and 10 boards, while former Phoenix guard Simon Enciso also played well against the Fuel Masters with 17 points spiked by five treys that went for naught as the Aces wasted an early 14-point lead.
PHOENIX 95 – Phelps 29, Jazul 15, Eriobu 14, J. Wilson 13, Intal 8, Baguio 5, W. Wilson 4, Hayes 2, Alolino 2, Borboran 2, Kramer 1, Dehesa 0, Lanete 0
ALASKA 93 – Henton 30, Enciso 17, Banchero 9, Manuel 9, Abueva 8, Dela Cruz 5, Baclao 4, Thoss 4, Magat 4, Galliguez 2, Racal 1, Exciminiano 0, Hontiveros 0, Casio 0
Quarterscores: 18-22, 43-46, 72-70, 95-93