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    Phoenix now 5-0 to start the PBA season after surviving brave NLEX stand

    Feb 8, 2019
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    PHOENIX kept its immaculate slate in the PBA Philippine Cup after surviving a gritty stand by NLEX, 83-82, on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    Matthew Wright sparked a late 9-0 run by the Fuel Masters to erase a three-point deficit and put the team in front for good, 83-77.

    The Road Warriors closed in to within a single point and had a chance to win it in the endgame. But Bong Galanza's attempt was blocked by Calvin Abueva to preserve the win for the Fuel Masters.

    Phoenix improved to a franchise-best 5-0 record.

    "Unbelievable," quipped coach Louie Alas when asked about the Fuel Masters' unblemished record.

    Wright finished with 17 points to lead Phoenix, but was 1-of-7 from three-point range although that lone trey which came in the final 4:15 mark tied the game at 77-all.

    Abueva had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, along with two block shots, while Perkins also had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Fuel Masters, who again lost grip of a huge 17-point lead in the second quarter.

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    "Naging complacent kami nung second quarter because we're leading by 17 as if nanalo na kami ng game," lamented Alas of his team's bad old habbit recurring again.

    Kenneth Ighalo, JR Quinahan, and Galanza sparked a third quarter comeback by NLEX, which outscored Phoenix to start the second half, 11-0, to take a 56-45 lead.

    But Alas went to his top perimeter defenders in RJ Jazul and rookies Jorey Napoles and Ron Denison to rally back the team going home.

    "Hanggang sa dulo close game na because of those three perimeter guys who did a good job of defending their (Road Warriors) perimeter players. So that's the game for me," added the Phoenix coach.

    The loss snapped NLEX's two-game winning run and fell to a 2-4 record overall despite another double-double effort from big man Poy Erram, who had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

    Galanza added 12 for the Road Warriors, who committed a total of 21 turnovers though, which Phoenix capitalized by outscoring its opponents, 32-18.

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    The scores

    Phoenix (83) - Wright 17, Perkins 14, Abueva 13, Mendoza 8, Jazul 8, Chua 6, Mallari 6, Revilla 3, Kramer 2, Marcelo 2, Napoles 2, Dennison 2, Gamboa 0.

    NLEX (82) - Quinahan 14, Galanza 12, Erram 11, Fonacier 9, Baguio 9, Lao 8, Ighalo 6, Porter 6, Paniamogan 5, Taulava 2, Tiongson 0, Magat 0, Tallo 0.

    Quarterscores: 24-12; 45-44; 67-70; 83-82.

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    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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