SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – RJ Jazul’s shooting hands on Thursday night were so hot that the joke was on him when the entire Phoenix team arrived at the Quest Hotel after its game against San Miguel.
“Hot daw. Baka nga raw makita rito sa temperature,” he said, referring to the forehead scanner placed at the entrance of the hotel to measure a person’s temperature as part of the PBA protocols inside the bubble.
But the 6-foot guard was truly in a zone in the Fuel Masters’ 110-103 win over the five-time defending champion Beermen at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
Jazul torched the opposition with nine three-pointers – a career high – on his way to a career-best 33 points that helped the team clinch a berth in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup.
He finished 9-of-16 from beyond the arc and had 23 points in the fourth quarter, alone, as Phoenix survived the repeated rallies of the Beermen.
While Jazul felt he was in a rhythm, he credited his shooting rampage to his teammates.
“Dahil kay Matt (Wright) kaya ako nagiging open. Lahat naman kami alam na si Matt yung focal point ng team namin. They’re denying him, they’re doubling, so laging may open,” he said.
But with Jazul on fire, the Fuel Masters kept looking for him.
“Siyempre (feeling) mo malaki na yung ring,” he said. “Pero ang maganda talaga lagi akong na-o-open. Pag nare-rebound nina Justin (Chua), Jayson (Perkins), hinahanap nila ako. Yun ang maganda sa amin, kung sino ang mainit, ibibigay namin sa kanya.
“Even si Matt pag open (ako), binibigay niya sa akin. Yun ang nakakatuwa.”
It was a special night for the Phoenix team captain that Wright, the Fuel Masters’ known go-to guy, gave him a huge hug when everything was over.
“Masaya siya para sa akin. Ganun naman kami. We’re happy for each other,” said Jazul when asked what Wright told him that exact moment.