ANTIPOLO - JC Intal finished off what Simon Enciso started as Phoenix stunned San Miguel Beer, 92-85, on Wednesday night to barge into the win column of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center.
Intal scored five of his game-high 22 points at crunch time to keep the Fuel Masters afloat after Enciso cooled down after a hot third quarter as they prevented a meltdown after leading by as many as 17 points early in the game.
Enciso fired 15 points, all from the three-point line, on top of an all-around line of nine assists and seven boards as the Fuel Masters pulled off an upset over the defending champions, tying their victims with a 1-1 win-loss record.
“I wasn’t expecting na makakaaspok ako dito ngayon kasi we’re facing the defending champions,” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia admitted. “Pero napatunayan namin sa isa’t-isa na kaya pala; We can compete with this team.”
“Luckily when they turned on the switch, we had a lead to sustain it,” he added.
Enciso scored his entire output in the third quarter as the Fuel Masters entered the fourth with a 14-point cushion that was enough to withstand a late stand by the Beermen.
June Mar Fajardo led the SMB fightback, scoring 12 of his 19 points in the payoff period, the last on a stab that nudged them to within a point, 85-84 with a little less than two minutes remaining.
The reigning league MVP finished a point shy of tallying a 20-20 as he collared 23 boards in 35 minutes.
Intal, in his first bench role in a long time, pounced on two second-chance possessions, the first scoring a bank shot then the second knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the key to seal the deal.
Marcio Lassiter also missed two late three-point attempts that allowed the Fuel Masters to hold on.
PHOENIX 92 – Intal 22, Enciso 15, Wright 14, Alolino 13, Caperal 10, W. Wilson 6, Lanete 4, Torres 4, Baguio 2, Hayes 2, J. Wilson 0, Borboran 0
SMB 85 – Fajardo 19, Cabagnot 16, Espinas 12, Lassiter 12, Santos 10, Garcia 9, Ross 4, Reyes 3, Agovida 0, Semerad 0, Tubid 0
Quarterscores: 26-15, 49-35, 77-63, 92-85