PHOENIX pounced on a shorthanded Barangay Ginebra side before surviving a late scare by the Gin Kings to hack out an 87-82 victory that allowed the Fuel Masters to regain their winning ways in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night.
The Fuel Masters built a 24-point lead late in the third quarter against a Gin Kings side missing Greg Slaughter, enough cushion to weather a familiar fightback by the never-say-die Gin Kings on the way to the hard-earned victory.
Jeff Chan hit the dagger jumper as he conspired with Willy Wilson and Matthew Wright in leading the attack of the Fuel Masters, who moved back to an even record at 3-3 and handed the Gin Kings their third straight defeat after a two-game win streak to start the season.
“At the latter part, we were cautious, so we have to learn, every possession,” Phoenix coach Louie Alas said. “Yun yung mahirap sa pag-develop ng winning character, but we’re getting there.”
“Pero kung kumpleto sila (Ginebra), it’s hard to beat them,” he added.
But on this night, the Fuel Masters took advantage of the absence of Slaughter, who’s nursing a hamstring injury, as they scored 23 unanswered points bridging the middle quarters to establish a wide gap that grew to as many as 24 points, 75-51, halfway through the third quarter.
Scottie Thompson, usually deferring to his teammates, went aggressive this time as he led the Gin Kings furious rally, capped by his steal and dish to Kevin Ferrer for the right-wing triple that Ginebra to within three points, 82-85, before the Fuel Masters held on.
Chan, Wright, and Wilson all registered 19 points apiece, but it was Wilson who provided a timely offensive boost as he made all his seven shots and all but one of his six free throws, completing his vintage play with five boards, two assists, and two steals in less than 25 minutes off the bench.
Thompson finished with game-highs of 22 points and 13 boards, along with four assists, and three steals in 38 minutes, while Japeth Aguilar added 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and one block that went to waste a day after celebrating his 31st birthday.
PHOENIX 87 – Chan 19, Wilson 19, Wright 19, Perkins 12, Revilla 6, Alolino 4, Mendoza 4, Kramer 2, Jazul 2, Intal 0, Guevarra 0
GINEBRA 82 – Thompson 22, Aguilar J. 21, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Caguioa 6, Cruz 6, Aguilar R. 3, Mariano 3, Taha 0, Mercado 0, Wilson 0, Jamito 0
Quarterscores: 15-19; 49-29; 75-53; 87-82