Phoenix avoids 4th quarter collapse, hands NLEX first loss
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Phoenix doused a fiery fourth-quarter comeback by NLEX as the Fuel Masters punished the Road Warriors with their first loss of the season, 102-95, in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, January 7.
The Fuel Masters built a 17-point lead to begin the payoff period, 90-73, before the Road Warriors closed the gap to just 4 points following a 15-2 run powered by Larry Fonacier's 8 points, 88-92.
A Matthew Wright bucket and RJ Jazul's pair of freebies with less than 5 minutes coupled with Juami Tiongson and Kiefer Ravena missing all of their 4 free throw attempts paved Phoenix's way to its second win in 3 outings.
"The key there is we were able to contain their perimeter guys. Kasi lahat naman ng coaches, alam 'yung strength ng NLEX, na hindi mo mai-stop [pero] ma-limit mo lang 'yung production ng perimeter guys, and I guess we're in good shape," said Phoenix head coach Louie Alas.
(The key there is we were able to contain their perimeter guys. All of us coaches know NLEX's strength, that you really cannot stop them but you can limit the production of their perimeter guys. I guess we're in good shape.)
Wright fueled Phoenix with 19 points of 4 triples to go with 7 assists, 5 rebounds and two steals while Jeff Chan chipped in 18 markers and 6 boards. RJ Jazul had 15 in the win.
NLEX got off to a hot start and led by as much as 10 points, 19-9, but Phoenix turned the tables and took the upper hand with a 9-0 blitz, 26-25.
Fonacier paced NLEX with 22 points, 13 of which came in the final period. Juami Tiongson added 12 points, 7 boards and 4 assists.
Kiefer Ravena, who was magnificent in the Road Warriors' first two games averaging 19 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2 steals, was limited to 8 points, 7 assists and one board.
Both teams are tied with a 2-1 win-loss card behind the unscathed San Miguel Beermen (2-0).
Phoenix (102): Wright 19, Chan 18, Jazul 15, Perkins 14, Chua 12, Kramer 10, Revilla 6, Wilson 2, Intal 2, Dehesa 2, Eriobu 2, Alolino 0.
NLEX (95): Fonacier 22, Tiongson 12, Miranda 10, Quiñahan 10, Al-Hussaini 8, Ravena 8, Taulava 6, Alas 6, Baguio 4, Gotladera 3, Ighalo 3, Buenafe 3.
Quarter scores: 19-25, 54-53, 88-73, 102-95. – Rappler.com